I HAVE RETURNED!!! Not only have I returned, but I’ve come back with a gazillion Realm Makers stories to share with you guys. AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT!
Realm Makers, guys… Wow. How do I even describe it? Before I went, I had heard some people say it’s unlike any writers conference out there. The people aren’t there to step on each other and rise to the top. And they’re not there to be ultra professional and stuffy either. No, Realm Makers is one big family of Jesus lovers with a mutual interest in all things geeky. And let me tell you, that statement was beyond true. RM was fun and quirky and full of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve ever met in my life. When I left, my heart was full. And it still is.
I have so many thoughts. SO MANY. This wasn’t just a place where I went to learn some good writing tips (though I got pleeenty of that as well). This was an experience that changed me from the inside out. Fears and doubts and worries I’ve had for nearly a decade (no joke) were all shoved away in this single weekend. That’s how powerful it was for me. BUT. I’m not going to talk about that today, though I do hope to share these thoughts with you guys sometime once I’ve processed them all. I have so much on my heart and mind!
But today we’re just gonna have fun and I’m going to give you a play-by-play of the event with looooots of pictures. YE HAVE BEEN WARNED. Pretty much every single one of you asked for a detailed recap post of Realm Makers when I got home, SO YOU’RE GETTING IT. If this gets long, I’m blaming you guys. ‘Cause it’s not like I everrr make monstrous posts. Nooo. *cough*
Okay, but seriously, this is going to be extra long, with all sorts of info you guys may not care a lick about. But I wanted to log my adventures and remember all the special little moments, not just the big highlights. So this ginormous post is just as much for me as you. Do feel free to skim!
ALL RIGHT. Let’s get to this!
REALM MAKERS 2018
DAY #1: THURSDAY
My dad and I headed off Wednesday and drove all day, got a hotel that night, then finished our drive to St. Louis Thursday. (My dad came with me due to me having some health problems and not needing to drive states away by myself, plus it was just safer that way. I was happy to have him with me! Also major thanks to him for often carrying my ridiculously heavy bag places, doing so much driving, always keeping ice and such handy in our hotel room, willingly taking pictures all those maaaany times I shoved my phone in his hand, and just in general assisting me with so much. I don’t think I could have managed without him!)
Around 1:30 Thursday, we arrived at the hotel where Realm Makers was being held and cue my heart flipping and squeals of excitement because I was THERE. My dream was coming true, and after prepping and planning since January (half. a. year.), IT WAS HAPPENING. And ooooh my word, was the hotel gorgeous. The outside looked like it had appeared right from a fairytale.
My goofy self in utter ecstasy that we had arriiiiived!
Just look at this hotel! <333
It was fitting because this year’s Realm Makers theme was dark fairytales. Which was also fitting, because I was going to be pitching a dark fairytale retelling, and I found it super fun that the theme for my first ever Realm Makers was my favorite genre ever!
After checking in and unloading our stuff in the hotel room, we went off to the Realm Makers registration table where, lo and behold, one of my very dearest buds in the whole wide world and brain twin, Celti herself, happened to be standing. Naturally much screaming and hugs took place.
At registration you’re given your badge (which was a lifesaver because often you’ll recognize someone’s face from somewhere on the internet but not know their name, or vise versa, so having everyone with a big name tag around their neck helped so, so much), and then you put stickers on them for how many years you’ve attended Realm Makers and what genre of speculative fiction you write (great conversation starters when meeting someone new!). My badge had stickers all over because I’ve dabbled in a bunch of genres. Eheh.
Once I was all registered, the fun began! The conference didn’t “officially” start until 4, so I had some time to mingle. Celti led me down to the Realm Makers bookstore, which was a big room full of vending tables and such, and basically every book there was on my TBR, and the room was full of fellow writers. Basically the writer’s dream. The bookstore area is kinda like the hub for Realm Makers—the place you go to wander and chat with people when you’re not busy in classes or whatever. (So you’ll see me refer to it a lot in this post.) It was such a fun, cozy, happy place.
Anyways, the first book I purchased was The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder herself, and I got to chatting with her (she is a gem!) and she asked if I’d be pitching at the conference. I said I was and was really nervous, and then and there she prayed for me. It was at that moment that I realized I was in a special place. Because from that moment on, I didn’t meet a single unkind person, out of the 300+ who were there! It still blows my mind.
It wasn’t long before I started seeing people I recognized, and pretty soon I was in the extroverted writer’s heaven as I was surrounded by all my writing peeps. Celti was the only online writing buddy I had met in person before (and that was just once a few years ago). So being with her and so, so, sooo many others IN PERSON felt surreal. Honest to goodness, that first couple of hours didn’t feel real. I kept thinking I was going to wake up from a dream because there I was, with people I had only ever gotten to speak to through a computer screen. And every single one of them was the genuine, precious person I knew online. It was so weird, but so amazing, because there were no awkward “first” meetings. You always wonder if you meet your online friend in person will they be the same? Will it feel awkward and different? It WASN’T. Not at all. We were all screaming and hugging and talking 90 miles a minute. It was the best thing ever. And what was even more fun was instantly becoming BFFs with people I barely even knew.
With some of my peeps. From left to right: Jaye, Ashley, Kendra, Katie, Deborah (a.k.a Celti), and me.
(When I get overly excited my smile turns into this evil-looking grin. Idon’tevenknow.)
It’s the craziest (but BEST) feeling walking into a room and suddenly seeing someone and thinking, oh yeah, I think I follow her on twitter. Or, I’ve seen that person’s profile pic in the comments of so-and-so’s blog. Or, THERE’S THAT AUTHOR I LOVE. (I did so much fangirling, guys.) Etc., etc. OR having people come up to me and saying they read my blog and enjoy it. (GUUUUYS. You made my heart explode with happiness. I love you all so much!) Some of my very closest writing friends were there, but there was also people I only vaguely knew, or people I had never come across before. But it didn’t matter. We were all there because we love writing and speculative fiction and shared all the same interests, and it really was one big family. Those first couple of hours of meeting my beloved people in person and instantly making new friends may have been my favorite part of the conference. But I don’t know, IT WAS ALL SO GOOD.
Anyways, after meeting and greeting and gathering up “my “people”, we still had a little bit before the conference officially opened, and someone mentioned getting coffee. Well, when you even whisper the C word in a room full of writers, it’s like throwing a bag full of candy at toddlers. We all perked up. Someone said there was a Starbucks nearby, so off a bunch of us went.
This was my first time getting to explore the area outside the hotel. Let me tell you, this was such a fantastic place to hold the conference. Not only is the hotel big and full of rooms for gathering and classes and things, but it’s connected to this big plaza area in St. Louis filled with quant restaurants, peaceful places to sit outside, a water fountain, and just broad, beautiful areas to stroll around in. There’s no need to drive anywhere once you’re at the hotel, because everything you need is within walking distant at the plaza.
Here’s a quick glimpse of part of the plaza area.
At Starbucks with so many amazing ladies.
We had to leave Starbucks pretty quick to hurry back for the conference opening. They started out showing a slideshow from last year’s RM with the song A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman playing and it thrummed something deep and good inside me. As I sat there I was thinking I’m here. This is happening. And just AWK. I can’t even explain it.
Sittin’ with meh Celti for the opening. <3
The ever amazing Mary Weber was Realm Makers’s keynote speaker this year and WOW WOW WOW. Are her words powerful! She got me choked up just with her opening speech. In fact, so much of what Mary spoke about throughout the entire conference was life changing for me. But, again, deeper stuff for another post!
MARY ACTUAL WEBER. :O
After the opening keynote, a bunch of us went to a delicious taco place on the plaza for supper. Then it was back to the hotel for a little orientation for those of us first year “Realmies”.
Eating tacos with Deborah, Tracey, Mary, Audrey, and Hann!
After orientation, there was an Agents/Editors Q&A panel, which was full of great info. And it helped to see who all agents and editors were there and what they looked like (especially since I’d be pitching to a couple of them in the next two days o.o). Then, right afterwards, there was a fun Flash Fiction Critique Session hosted by Splickety. Before Realm Makers, people could send in a 300-word flash fiction piece, and ten were going to be chosen to be read at the session and critiqued by professionals. I didn’t enter a piece myself, but some of my friends did and both Celti’s and Savannah Grace’s pieces were chosen as one of the ten to be read. Needless to say, we were all internally screeching. So, so proud of them both!
With that done, the first day of elation ended. Some of us chatted for a bit, and I ran into Kyle Robert Shultz (ya know, the guy who writes the Beaumont and Beasley books which I squeal about practically daily???) and got to talk with him for a bit. Except I never did get an individual pic with him or Jenelle Schmidt or Ashley Townsend. UGH. I’m so mad at myself. But I guess it’s the meeting and hanging out with them that matters more than pics.
None of us chatted for too long though because we were all preeetty exhausted from traveling and such, and so we split ways to our hotel rooms and conked out. But the fun was just beginning!
DAY #2: FRIDAY
The day things were about to really get underway!
After mingling in the bookstore where they served a light breakfast, the day opened up with some announcements, then it was off to classes!
Sitting with my dearest Tracey, Mary, and Savannah while we waited for welcome/announcements to start.
My first class was a continuing session entitled “Faith-Infused and Faith-Fueled Fiction” by author Sharon Hinck. I sat at a table with three other girls I didn’t know and they were all so nice. Sharon Hinck had us do some writing exercises and things with our table, and we all chatted so well and encouraged one another. Again I say, every. single. person. at this conference (at least everyone I encountered!) was as friendly and uplifting as could be. And SHARON HINCK. I’ve sadly never read her books (though I’ve always wanted to!), but I adored her. She made the classroom feel so cozy and fun. Her love for life and Jesus was contagious. And her messages of not writing for your motives, not filling your book with your agendas, but just being open to God and letting Him do with your story what He will spoke so deeply to me. The main theme of the class was that we should be motivated to share our fiction for no other motive than this one: Love. Such a powerful thought! The class ran for two hours, and I felt so encouraged and inspired by the end of it. I could feel God’s presence there, and it was beautiful.
Right after that class, I went to the “How to Pitch Your Novel Without Sounding Like a Robot” class by Nadine Brandes. Yes, that Nadine Brandes!!! I needed this class since I was gonna be pitching my book later that day FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. And it. was. so. helpful. Nadine laid it out so simply, and then gave us five minutes to write out an elevator pitch. I literally wrote a better elevator pitch in those five minutes than the one I had spent weeks on at home. NO JOKE. That’s Nadine’s magic for ya.
After the class, Tracey and I decided to go talk to Nadine. This was my first time talking to Nadine IN PERSON. And she signed A Time to Die for me and she’s every bit as precious and delightful as she is online and just adlkjflsdjflkjsd. NADINE!!! Before Realm Makers, I had never had the chance to actually be with famous authors in person before. So yeah, I was a taaaad excited.
With the adorable Nadine herself!!!
After the pitching class, it was lunch, and a good many of us went to a fantastic pizza place and had a lovely time! It was also fun wandering around and hearing tidbits of conversations about writing wherever we went. It seemed all of Realm Makers had taken over the plaza, and I loved it. I loved being in an environment packed with writers. I don’t have any writing friends in my town, and am not used to talking about writing with other writers outside of the internet. Having basically half of my writing online community there in person was seriously a dream. And as an extrovert, I was exploding with happiness.
With the crew. From left to right: Audrey, Savannah, Deborah, Jenelle, Mary, Kendra, Kyle, Tracey, Madeline, and me.
Some of us also briefly explored the top of a clock tower area (you can see the steps to it behind us on the above pic), which was a blast! And took lots of pics with each other.
View from the top.
Madeline! I’m so, so glad I got this pic with her, because I didn’t
get many others with her and me and it makes me SAD.
“The Three Fairies.” Deb, Tracey, and I were named that a long while
back by a friend, and it was truly magical all actually being together.
After our exploration adventures, it was back to the hotel for more classes. My next one was “Everything You Need to Know About YA” by Nadine Brandes and Mary Weber. And um YES. A young adult fiction class by Nadine and Mary themselves??? I was so excited about this one. Nadine and Mary were so fun, and the whole class was full of such wonderful information. I was scribbling out notes like a storm.
In class with mah gals Mary, Tracey, and Savannah.
We all decided we want to be Nadine and Mary when we “grow up”.
The Queens Nadine and Mary themselves!
After that, it was part 2 of Sharon Hinck’s continuing session, but I had to leave pretty early to get to pitching appointments. Which made me SAD, because I was loving this class. But it was off to the scary stuff!
My first appointment was actually a 10-page critique session I had ordered with a Tyndale editor. I had sent in the first 10 pages of Burning Thorns to her before Realm Makers, and so for the appointment we sat for 30 minutes discussing it. The appointment went really well and I felt very encouraged afterwards because she didn’t see all that much that needed improving. And this is a TYNDALE EDITOR so I was just like WUT. I was expecting her to find a gadrillion things that should be changed. But other than a few problem areas in on the first two pages, and some tiny word changes she suggested, there was nothing major she thought I needed to change. This was my first time ever to talk to a true professional about any of my writing, so I was very, very happy!
A little bit after that, I had my first pitching appointment. O___O I make a mess of explaining my stories to my own family. So pitching to a professional???? CUE THE SHRIEKING. I…honestly don’t know how it went. I personally felt like a blabbering moron and it was such a blur I barely remember everything I said. Eheh. Buuuut I don’t think it was really that bad. In the end, the person said they have a Beauty and the Beast story coming out with their publishing company already, so they couldn’t take on another one. Which I totally understood. I then asked what they thought of my story in general, was it publishable or should I try with something else? They said it looked like I had some cool concepts and should definitely keep shopping around. So yeah, I guess I didn’t completely fail. And I was very encouraged by that! Because that was a huge reason I wanted to go to Realm Makers. I had no grand delusions that I’d leave with a book contract. I mean…no. BUT, I did want to know if I’m wasting my time pursuing publishing with Burning Thorns or not, ‘cause I’ve got plenty of other stories I could try with. It was a relief to know the book market is still looking for Beauty and the Beast stories, and mine isn’t totally cliché or anything. So I call my first pitch a success I suppose. The person didn’t say my story stank anyway, so I’ll take it! XD
With that done, I took a deep breath (for now, I had one more pitch the next morning eheheheh) and got to relax a bit. I was feeling extra tired at this point, which made me sad, because this extrovert hates having to go rest when there’s people to talk to. But my body was shutting down between the few hours of sleep and lots of walking it had been through. So I forced myself to go to the hotel room, make some coffee, and reenergize a bit. Then it was time to get dressed for the…AWARDS BANQUET.
The awards banquet is kinda the crown jewel of Realm Makers. Not only is it a big, fun dinner everyone gets to go to buuuut…it’s a costume dinner! As in, us weird speculative fiction writers get to truly let our creative weirdness out and cosplay as whatever/whoever we want. I had been working on putting together my costume for a good two full months prior to Realm Makers, and was beyond ecstatic to finally get to wear it. And see everyone’s else creations.
I went dressed as…
STEAMPUNK ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
And yes, that is me in my room days before Realm Makers, and it was nighttime so excuse the gross, grainy lighting. But I apparently didn’t get any shots of just myself at the banquet so… Eheh.
Okay, so my obsession with Alice in Wonderland is…probably unhealthy. I LOVE IT. Always have. (If you look closely, you can see an entire Alice in Wonderland setup at the top of my bookshelf behind me. The obsession is strooong.) And Alice has always, always, always been one of my top most favorite female fictional characters in the world. I also relate to her spacey, curious personality a lot. Plus we’re both blondes! I’ve wanted to dress up as her forEVER, but never really had the opportunity. The second I realized I was going to Realm Makers, I knew I wanted to do an Alice cosplay. Buuut her outfit is pretty simplistic and I felt like going as something more elaborate. Well, I adore steampunk, so why not Steampunk Alice??? It was so much fun to put together!
Everyone’s costumes were spectacular! There was actually a ton of steampunk outfits, and I loved it. (You’re about to get bombarded with pics, I make no apologies.)
That’s Lindsay Franklin as a steampunk Cheshire and S.D. Grimm as a steampunk
Queen of Hearts, guys! It was ecstatic to find other steampunk Wonderland characters.
And actual, real life, awesome authors at that. Talk about awesome.
With meh fairies. Is Tracey’s Cinder from Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles
costume not the coolest thing ever??? And Deborah is the most gorgeous Princess
Kamarie from Jenelle Schmidt’s The Minstrel’s Song series.
MARY AS MARY POPPINS. This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in. my. life.
I squealed so hard when I saw her. Plus “Mary” as Mary. It’s so perfect!
My precious Savannah in her gorgeous princess-y outfit
and gorgeous hair and just…GORGEOUS.
E. Kaiser MADE this TARDIS dress, guys. Just… O___O So. Much. Talent.
(Also TARDIS dresssssss. *fangirls*)
Kara Swanson herself! And yes, she is a Peter Pan flapper. Is that not the most
brilliant thing ever? Also, I love Peter Pan as much as Alice in Wonderland
soooo yeah. I LOVED IT.
Jaye L. Knight blew us all away with her elaborate Assassin’s Creed costume.
I mean, LOOK AT THAT THING.
This guy was such a fantastic Captain America. And Jeneca came
as Buckyyyyyy! So of course we had to get them in a pic together.
Nadine Brandes as Trelawney from Harry Potter. (Except I’ve only
read the first two HP books so far and haven’t seen the movies, so
I’ve yet to “meet” Trelawney. BUT I WILL.)
Mary Weber was a fellow steampunk cosplayer! Made me so excited.
It’s Eleven form Stranger Things!!!
LOOK. AT. THIS. MAD. HATTER. This girl won best costume,
and with good reason. I MEAN LOOK AT IT. Also I was so excited
a Wonderland character won! Wonderland representation. Woot, woot!
Audrey, me, Tracey, and Mary.
Audrey’s outfit was SO COOL. It just makes you want to go adventuring with her.
Ooookay, I need to stop. There were just so many amazing costumes, guys!
The whole banquet was such a fun night. After wandering around the bookstore looking at everyone’s costumes and taking pics, I went to the main eating area. At first I couldn’t find a table with anyone I really knew, then I spotted Tracey, Mary, and Savannah with one free seat at their table, so happily settled in, only to look across the table to find Steve Laube sitting next to Tracey. Ya know, big-time literary agent Steve Laube? Yeah! There were also a couple of people who worked for Enclave Publishing at the table. I was not expecting this! But I was delightfully surprised. You seriously never know who you’re going to end up with at a writers conference.
After dinner, so many of us lingered and chatted and took pics, and just had a lovely night all around. It was definitely a huge highlight of the weekend.
We’ll just not talk about how I didn’t get to bed until 1 in the morning and had to get up at 6. Eheheh.
DAY #3: SATURDAY
The last-ish day of Realm Makers. *SOBS* But what a day it was!
It honestly didn’t start out great. Bryan Davis (my favorite author EVERRR) was popping in for breakfast that morning, but he came real early and I wasn’t feeling great that morning and didn’t get down in time to see him. I think I missed him within minutes too. So I was pretty bummed. But I needed some sleep since I had a pitching appointment later that morning. I was also really nervous about my pitch, so between missing Bryan Davis and feeling a little ill, I was pretty meh.
BUT, if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that God’s presence is the strongest through hard times. When I was finally dressed and headed out of the hotel room, I made a quick stop to grab coffee they had in the lobby and ran into a fellow Realmie and got to chatting with him. He happened to ask if I had any pitching appointments and I told him I did that very morning and he up and decided to pray for me. (I’m telling you, the Realm Makers people are the best people out there.) That was really encouraging. Then I wandered down to the bookstore and found myself talking with Jamie Foley herself, the author of the Sentinel Trilogy, which you guys have probably all seen my flail about on here before. I LOVE THOSE BOOKS SO MUCH. And oh my gracious goodness, Jamie is one of the most amazing, encouraging, genuine ladies I have ever met in my life. Talking with her just filled me up.
THE Jamie Foley!
Those things helped brighten my mood a lot, and then, after morning announcements, I headed off to the third session of Sharon Hinck’s class. And, to my shock, she opened up by giving a personal testimony about her life and own health problems and what the Lord has done through them. I needed that, because the conference was really taking a toll on me physically and I was feeling bummed about it. Sharon Hinck’s speech spoke to my soul.
I had to leave her class early though to go to my appointment. I gave myself 30 minutes though to gather myself together, look over my pitching notes, and pray. I will still feeling ill, not to mention nervous, and was so scared I was going to make a mess of it. But I should have known God would be with me, as He had been that entire morning. Because the second I sat down for my appointment, the nerves flitted away, and I enjoyed myself. Like a lot. It was a wonderful appointment and we talked about fairytales and all sorts of lovely things, and I was told again that I had a very interesting concept for a story. And it ended with me being told I was welcome to send in a query and proposal so they can look at it all more thoroughly. GOD IS GOOD, GUYS. This probably won’t come of anything. But, again, it was so reassuring to know this story of mine may be publishable one day. Not only that, that whole morning proved to me how deeply our Lord cares for us and is with us through the trials. Yes, I missed seeing Bryan Davis. Yes, I was feeling kind of sick. But God carried me through it.
Needless to say, after the appointment I was floating on air. That was my last appointment for the conference, it went pretty well, and I could just enjoy the rest of the weekend. I also got to feeling a good bit better after that. Everything was fine!
And the rest of the day was utterly spectacular.
After my pitching appointment I just kind of chilled and talked with people and breathed a sigh of relief that I had no more appointments. Lol. (Now I know. Next time I’m scheduling any and all appointments early on the first day and getting them over with. And doing them before I’ve gone multiple days with very little sleep.) My next class was a part 2 of Nadine Brandes and Mary Weber’s “Everything You Need to Know About YA”. And again, I learned SO MUCH. This was possibly the most useful class for me of the whole conference. They mainly discussed the importance of marketing and tips and tricks, which is something I’ve been stressing about very recently here. That class came at the best time.
Afterwards, I decided to approach Mary and Nadine and get them to sign some books. Mary signed my copies of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow and Reclaiming Shilo Snow which I was so ecstatic about. I read both of those right before Realm Makers and LOVED them. It was thrilling getting her to sign them and chatting with her a bit. Her heart for people just inspires me.
Mary Weber! And yes, she was wearing a My Little Pony
sweatshirt, which I had to squee over. She’s the best.
I then got Nadine to sign my copy of Fawkes, which I had recently picked up in the Realm Makers bookstore. I WAS SO EXCITED.
Afterwards, I went to find my peeps for lunch and sat out with them in a big nice area in the plaza eating more food from the taco shop. The weather was windy and absolutely perfect that day. As someone who lives in the ridiculously humid south, I was soaking up the drier, cooler weather of Missouri.
Such a nice place to chill and eat.
There wasn’t much going on for a little while after lunch, which was nice. I got to chat with people, hangout in the bookstore, and purchase more books I wanted. I had been buying one or two books basically every time I was in the bookstore, attempting to pace myself. Eheh. I just wanted SO MUCH. But there was going to be a big book signing that evening, so I knew I needed to go ahead and get everything else I wanted.
That afternoon there was one more class-ish thing—some different panels. I went to one titled “Mental and Physical Health for Writers”. I obviously needed that one. Haha. And it was really encouraging seeing that I’m not alone struggling with physical health, and got some good tips how to balance it with writing. And then after the panel, I ended up talking with Celti and Jamie Foley, and we discussed some health problems we have, and by the end of it we were nearly in tears. We had such a meaningful talk. To this day, whenever I think of it, my heart swells.
The closing keynote was about to start, so we three headed to that. And Mary Weber did it again. This time her closing speech really moved me to tears. Like sniffling, tears down my cheeks, barely able to hold it together tears. She later said she had a different speech planned, but wasn’t feeling it and wrote this one mere hours before giving it. Which blew my mind because it sounded as if she had been working on it for weeks. It spoke directly to me on such a deep level. I needed that speech. So, so much.
With that, it was dinner time. Since it would be our last meal together (*SNIFF, SNIFF*) a bunch of us were trying to gather everyone we could. Then, next thing we knew, Mary Weber was there and asked if we all wanted to go grab something to eat. Um…YES!!!
This was one of the (if not THE) best moments of Realm Makers. It was hilarious, because as a huge group of us followed Mary through the hotel to the plaza, we kept gathering people, until we had like half of Realm Makers. We decided to go to the taco shop (why yes, I ate there 3 times in one weekend and I don’t even care), and all took our food outside. And Mary Weber and Nadine Brandes was there and so many more, and we had the most amazing time sitting out eating tacos in the lovely weather and discussing the epic weekend we’ve had. I’m grinning just thinking about it.
Half of Realm Makers trekking off to get tacos. I feel
like we scared the workers at the taco restaurant. XD
Getting tacos with Nadine Brandes!
In line with Audrey, Katie, Mary, and Tracey. My people. <3
(But again with the creepy evil grin, Christine. Whyyy?)
Sitting on a set of steps outside the taco shop chatting with Mary Weber.
That’s the top of my head on the far right. Lol.
After the amazing taco adventure, we all headed back to the hotel and to gather books out of our rooms. Because it was now time for a big book signing! Although I didn’t have an enormous stack to bring, because I had been strategically asking people here and there throughout the whole weekend to sign my books, juuust in case I didn’t manage to get them at the book signing. And so I wouldn’t have to carry an arm-breaking load of books to the signing. *grins* I’m so glad I did it that way too. Because Mary Weber’s line went on for THREE HOURS. o___O She’s just so nice and sat there and talked to each and every person for like ten minutes. I got to skip her line though since I had gotten her to sign my books earlier that day. Bwahaha. (I mean…I hope it was okay to get people to sign my books before the official book signing. I think a lot of people were doing that, and none of the authors ever seemed to mind, so I think it’s a good strategy.) I did scoot over to Nadine’s line though to get her to sign my last two Out of Time trilogy books even though I had already approached her twice to sign books. *sheepish grin* But this way I got signatures on all four of her books! IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. And she seemed delighted by it, so I think it was fine. I liked doing it one at a time throughout the weekend better than coming up to her with an armload of books for her to sign at once. Lol.
Anyways, I got a bunch of other books signed as well. Including my copy of The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson!
With Mr. Batson himself! (And yes, that is an Alice in Wonderland
book tote I have. I HAVE A PROBLEM, OKAY???)
It was so epic talking to him and getting him to sign his debut for me, because I had read and loved that trilogy when I was much younger, and I really admire him.
The whole night was magical talking with authors, getting books signed, hanging out with everyone, buying more books even though I thought I was done doing that. *cough* And celebrating with Audrey who won the free conference registration in the raffle. *SQUEALS* It was amazing!
I came home with 19 books total. Guess I should have gotten one more. XD
Once the book signing wound down, they started getting ready for the famous Realm Makers Nerf war. (I told you guys this is not like a normal writers conference.) It’s a tradition to end RM with a big Nerf War. Unfortunately, I was muuuuch too tired to join in, even though I would have really liked to. But I got to watch a bit which was fun.
Nothing like a bunch of writing nerds shooting each other with Nerf guns.
After watching for a few minutes, Mary, Tracey, and I found somewhere quiet in the lobby to chill and talk for a bit before Tracey had to go to bed since she had a super early flight home the next morning. There may have been many tears shed saying goodbye. But it made me think of the Winnie-the-Pooh quote: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Those words were so, so true for Realm Makers.
With Mary and Tracey for our last night. Tired face but full heart.
I crashed that night, sad the event was basically over, but so beyond happy it happened. Though I wasn’t quite done.
DAY #4: SUNDAY
I was so scared I was going to miss saying goodbye to everyone, because I didn’t know when people were headed off, but I went down to the lobby that morning to find it full of my people. We all got to hang out for about an hour before most people headed out. Thus many final pictures were made.
Mary and Savannah! These girls just make me so happy, you have no idea. <3
Kendra is such a delight. XD Hanging out with her was the best.
JAYE L. KNIGHT. I adoooore her Ilyon Chronicles books, so getting
to befriend her and hang out was the dream. She is seriously the sweetest person.
Katie Grace. Only the most precious bean in the whole world. Can I keep her?
Jeneca is such a spectacular girl, and getting to know her at Realm Makers was the best thing.
It was really hard saying so many goodbyes, but goodness did we all have a wonderful time together. I honestly can’t even express how much each friend I met and made at Realm Makers means to me. Those people are the epitome of kindred spirits. I feel so blessed to have them in my life! (If only we didn’t all live so far away. *sobs*)
After hugging everyone and trying to hold it together, I headed off to the last bit of Realm Makers—the post-conference FightWrite workshop with Carla Hoch.
I am so glad I decided to sign up for this workshop. I literally have zero clue how to write fight scenes, and yet I put them in my stories alllll the time????? This class was a ginormous well of information. Carla Hoch was so much fun and demonstrated a ton of fighting techniques. I actually took more notes in this class than any of the others! Not only did I learn a lot of great methods to help me write fight scenes better, I also just got a lot of great tips for self defense in general.
Carla Hoch using poor Ben Wolf as her assistant.
But my favorite part of the class was when we started discussing how to combat atop a dragon. ONLY AT REALM MAKERS, GUYS. And Carla Hoch talked so seriously about it. It was the best. And actually insanely helpful since I have a whole SEVEN BOOK SERIES about dragon riders with like a gazillion fight scenes atop dragons. You just never know what great stuff you’re gonna learn at Realm Makers!
With that, Realm Makers was officially, officially over. But, thankfully, my sweet Mary was still around and she and I and my dad went and had lunch together before saying farewell for reals. We also ran into Olivia, another sweet Realmie, who joined us for lunch.
We then headed back to the hotel for the last goodbyes. Then Dad and I loaded up into the car and headed out.
And thus my first ever Realm Makers ended. But my heart was utterly full, my head brimming with inspiration and motivation and ideas, and my soul nourished. It was so, so much more than a writers conference. It was seriously a life changing event. And though there were a few hiccups and health problems, I honestly keep forgetting about those, because the good was so good, it completely outweighed the bad.
I hope more than anything I get to attend again next year. Which, by the way, will be held in the exact same place and same time!!! Just for any of those who were thinking about going next year. *wink, wink* *nudge, nudge*
Like I keep saying, there’s so much more to the story. So many revelations from God and thoughts and ideas swirling through my head. Once I process it all, I’d love to share it with you. But if you’re even sort of considering going to Realm Makers I have to say: DO IT!!! I promise you won’t regret it.
Goodbye St. Louis. You were a dream come true. <3
But GOOD GRIEF. This may be my longest post ever, which is saying something for me. o.O Maybe I should have split this up into two posts??? Eheh. Sorry about this. If you read this whole thing, you get alllll the cookies because wow, what a monster. Thank you for putting up with my maaaany ramblings and pictures.
I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH AND IT WAS SUCH A DREAM COME TRUE MEETING SO MANY OF YOU AT RM!!! Thank you for being on this crazy writing journey with me. <3
TALK WITH ME!
You’ve made it to the end of the Godzilla post! CONGRATS. Now I want to hear from you! Who’s making it to Realm Makers next year??? Have you ever been to any other writing conferences? (This was my first.) And did I bore you to death with my ridiculously long and detailed recap? Because, seriously, this is embarrassingly long. *cough* Okay, but I miss talking with you guys. I feel like I’ve been gone for ages even though it’s only been a couple of weeks. So how are you doing? What’s going on? LET’S CHAT!