Realm Makers – There & Back Again: The Authors Journey


I’m writing the first part of this from the Philly airport. I have just discovered that my flight is delayed. I have rebooked twice- rerouted- Travel can Be stressful- exhausting- and irritating.

My first thoughts go to my wife. I feel bad for her. She is what is on my mind. She is more kind, patient, beautiful, and supportive than I deserve. Without her, my journey as an author would be empty. And I’m glad I have her- To hold my hand, to lend an ear, to speak the words I need. For if, there is one thing I have learned this past week while at Realm Makers- It’s that an author’s journey never ends: Meaning- We all need our own Samwise Gamgee…

Realm Makers is more than just a writers conference. It is more than Geeky costumes, weird ideas, and late night Zombie Nerf Wars!!!

It’s a place to connect with a very active online community. A group that provides support, encouragement, and friendship while on the creative road. Where you are encouraged to embrace the gift God has given you. Every author needs that supportive cast: For the road is often littered with bumps, bruises, tears, and heartache. And when such accomplished authors like Thomas Locke, and NY Times Bestselling authors Tosca Lee, & Kathy Tyers speak of how they still deal with rejection or have recently been rejected themselves- you realize that creatives have a battle they must endure always.

“There is not a single day I sit down to write & I’m not scared to death.” -Tosca Lee (Click to tweet)

Thomas Locke reminded us this weekend that “You must learn to empty yourself. The greatest enemy of our souls is noise.”

I have a lot of noise in my life. From hundreds of emails, to the jealousy of others success, to the endless list of things to do, and an ever-ticking clock pounding in my ear.

Writing I have learned, is not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. Writing is an art that is expressed and nurtured through time. Too many times I think I need to finish now, or tomorrow, and I measure my success by what I have not done. “But, the outside world cannot be your only mark of success.” – Thomas Locke.

It was great seeing old friends: Josh, Jason, Nadine, Zac, and so many, many others. It was great to meet so many new faces. It was great to hear all the crazy story ideas everyone had. And I must admit there were a few times I thought: “I wish I had come up with that…”

I have returned home now. I will dive back into my shell, I will kiss my kids. I will love my wife. I will tell her what she means to me, and I will tell her I love her. I will tell her that without her, I would have collapsed on this road long ago.

My advice from what I took away from this weekend- Find the ones who love you. Who believe in you. Allow them to be a part of your creative life- For as Thomas Locke said:

“Your life is your page. Live your stories out…”

25 Reasons I’m Going to Realm Makers

25 Reasons I’m Going to Realm Makers and you Should to… 

So why would I choose Realm Makers as my conference of choice… ?

I’ve gotten that question a couple of times the past few weeks. Let me first start by saying I have nothing against other writers conferences.

However, when I’m choosing a Conference- I’m having to choose Realm Makers.

Those other Conferences are amazing conferences- With a great lineup of speakers, agents, and editors. The benefits are exceptional. So, why not go…? Because it just doesn’t fit me.

You see- I’m a spec writer. And contrary to what some may think- Spec writers are a different mold.

We have different mindsets, different ideas, and we enjoy different things. The creativity embraced by Spec Writers is one that is far different from those in Romance, Mystery, and even straight-line suspense. Those are great genres. I love those genres. However, spec writers like to sit around a table and discuss Role Playing Games, Fan theories, have Nerf wars, and think deeply about if Dragon’s Poop and / or discuss the possibility of Zombie Sharks. (Two conversations that have taken place in previous Realm Makers Conf.)

It’s not that we are exclusive or arrogant- We’re just different. We approach writing in a different way. And we have a far different Target Audience than most traditional Publishers have in mind.

Personally, I have a desire to connect with other writers. I especially have a desire to connect with writers who are like me and have strange ideas. When I discuss my projects at Realm Makers, no one looks at me with a strange expression that says: That’s just weird. They embrace the idea and want to hear more.

Realm Makers is the only conference solely focused on Faith-Based Speculative Fiction. It is the only place where if you write weird- You are certain to find someone that writes even weirder.

Here are the 25 reasons I’m Choosing Realm Makers this year.

  1. It’s In Philly: Who doesn’t want to go out and try an authentic Philly Cheese Steak.
  2. It’s Affordable: If you plan it right, and depending on where you’re flying or driving from, you can go to Realm Makers for $1,000 or less. Room, Meal Plan, and Conference Registration is around $500.
  3. The Dorms make it feel like old-school Summer Camp: I loved this. Staying in a dorm room made the entire weekend feel like summer camp and / or being back at college. It also keeps the conference affordable.
  4. Costume Night: Wizards, Black Holes, Jedi’s, Waldo, Katniss, Wolverine, Leia, dragons!!! Just come up with a costume and go (I’m thinking I might be the 12th Doctor this year.)
  5. Zombie Nerf Wars: Be a kid again, pull up your sleeves, grab the old (or new) nerf gun and have some late night fun.
  6. Great Spec Speakers: NY Times Bestselling Author Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author Kathy Tyers, Thomas Locke, Mike Duran, Steve Laube, Julie Gwinn, Patrick Carr, Kirk DouPonce, Lane Heymont, Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn, Carla Hoch, Chris Morris…
  7. Taxes: I mentioned Chis Morris above- The Creative Accountant who makes you love accounting. (Okay- That may be a stretch) But he gives you tips for staying out of jail. What more could you ask for…?
  8. Theology: I think I heard or had more theological conversations last year then I had in the previous six months. Spec writers have a passion for pursuing theology on a deep level and then fusing that into their fiction.
  9. Small: I’m not sure of the total numbers last year (I think 150) but Realm Makers is still pretty small. Regardless, it’s at the right size where everyone can find a way to fit in easily and not get lost in the crowd.
  10. Demographics: Most writers conferences I have gone to have been women. Men seem to be very under-represented. But at Realm Makers I was very surprised to see about an equal split.
  11. The Realm Maker Alumni Facebook Group: When you leave Realm Makers you will find that the connections you make- can come right with you. The Realm Makers Alumni Group is where the conference continues.
  12. You’re Strange, I’m Strange, We’re All Strange: When I’ve gone to other writers conference in the past I seem to be the weird one. I mean, I write horror and to most that seems to be an oxymoron. At Realm Makers- we’re all a little strange- So rest assured you’ll fit right in.
  13. Appointments: Last year I was all ready to go to a major conference. I had registered and everything. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that there wasn’t but one agent looking for Spec Fic. At Realm Makers- You will find those agents focused on your genre.
  14. Encouragement: At Realm Makers you’ll meet other authors who will encourage you to not give up- To keep churning out the words- And focus on finishing your story.
  15. No One Rolls their Eyes when I tell them What I’m Working on: When you describe your story- Don’t expect a smirk, a confused look, or even the occasion eye roll. People get what you are working on. They understand it. If it seems like a strange story- As I’ve said before- Someone has probably got something a little stranger.
  16. Lasers, Dragons, Keyboards: Only the best podcast for Christian Spec fic- And the best part it- The idea was born at Realm Makers.
  17. Vision: Ideas are born at Realm Makers. Podcast, publishing houses, collaborations- People meet and then leave with an idea.
  18. Deep Conversation: I had more deep conversations last year that went on until 1:00 in morning than I’ve ever had at a Con before. Authors at Realm Makers enjoy exploring the depths, for the surface brings boredom.
  19. Splickety: One of the things I love about Realm Makers is the way they have brought Splickety right into the mix. Short fiction is one of the best ways for a new writer to break in, and Splickety is the top Short Fiction magazine in the CBA (My Opinion)
  20. Speculative Theology: Mike Duran will be teaching a course on Theology in Speculative Fiction. If you read or attended his session on Christian Horror last year this promises to be a great course.
  21. SuzyQ: No one makes Marketing and Brand Building fun like Suzy Q. I promise they will make you laugh and understand the process of promoting your book with simple, easy, ideas.
  22. Spiritual Writing: Super Agent Steve Laube will be teach an in-depth spiritual track on preparing yourself spiritually for the writing process.
  23. Freelance Editors who Specialize in Spec Fic: If you don’t have an editor you will find one at Realm Makers- And better, these editors specialize in Speculative Fiction.
  24. Young Writers: One of the most encouraging things last year was how many young teenage writers I ran into.
  25. New Friends:If you work it right- You’ll meet a hundred new friends.

There are many more reasons I go to this conference- these are just a few. What about you, why are you choosing to go…?