Realm Makers 2021 Wrap-Up

Hey friends! This past July I got to attend my first ever Realm Makers conference. (Yes, it was over six weeks ago and I am finally writing a blog post about it… Better late than never, right?) Best of all, the conference was in St. Louis in person. After so many months sequestered away from other writers, hanging out together was a dream come true.

Realm Makers (RM) is a conference for Christian authors of speculative fiction (sci fi, fantasy, and horror) and includes a huge range of writers—pre-published, indie, small press, CBA, and mainstream/ ABA. It’s a place to meet other people who geek out over things that would bore most normal people, like whether a Nazgul could defeat a Balrog or whether time travel is possible.

I came in being a bit of an outsider—first-timer, published in romantic suspense, and my current YAs are thrillers. But I still love spec fiction and want to keep writing it in the future, so it was great getting to meet other Christian writers interested in the same things. Plus, even though it was my first time and I didn’t really know anyone, I got to meet some Twitter friends in person. SO FUN!

The conference was held at the Westport Chalet, a pretty hotel with convenient access to food.

My flights to and from St. Louis were the stuff of nightmares (think CANCELLED both ways), but even though I arrived late and missed the first evening, the remaining two days were packed with food for the writer’s soul. I took Allen Arnold’s three-session class on creative lightning, encouraging us to rethink how we view our creativity and success as co-creating with God. I sat in on a session with agent Steve Laube, who reduced us all to tears in his discussion of the crucible of lament and how God uses difficult circumstances to refine us and our stories. Carla Hoch taught us about the value of injuring your characters (very helpful for a suspense and thriller writer), and YA author Nadine Brandes shared about writing for your heart versus writing for the market. Really powerful stuff.

The evening of the first night ended with the super-fun RM awards gala, a big costume party and dinner. Since I’m totally lacking in sewing skills, I decided to go with a costume ordered off Amazon and dressed up as Eowyn from LOTR. Many people made their own costumes—so much talent in this group!

Me as Eowyn, with YA author Laura Zimmerman, and some of the other amazing costumes.

Night Two brought the book convention, where the RM awards finalists and winners and several of the RM conference faculty signed books. What a delight to be surrounded by so many fantastic books and authors! I bought a few to get signed (hello, TBR mountain!). Before I left home, I dug out my two favorite Frank Peretti books to bring along, and I was so happy to meet him (he was the keynote speaker) and get them signed. He was a bit surprised to see my copy of “Door in the Dragon’s Throat” from the early 1990s, which I saved all these years for my kids. Now it’s been signed for them!

Meeting Frank Peretti, one of my favorite childhood authors, was a definite highlight!

Despite travel issues, it was definitely worth the time and cost to go this past year. I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to RM, as I’m hoping to go to ACFW in 2022 and the budget can’t handle multiple big conferences. But until then, I’ll be applying all the great ideas and motivation I picked up at RM 2021. ❤

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