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…?


FIRST LINES!!!! – I Love Them

first line banner

Every book starts someplace, right?

I have a ADD. Not the type where I’m bouncing off walls all hours of the night, but I struggle with sitting down to concentrate. So when most people say that if you can’t engage your reader after twenty pages, then you’ve failed- I want to laugh. Why? Because with me, it’s much less.

Is that fair? No. But it’s reality. I have two kids under the age of two and a busy life outside of the home. My time is very valuable and I don’t have a lot of extra minutes to wait and see if a book will draw me in.

That’s why I always look at the first line.

I notice right away if a book is going to hold me long enough to get to the end. Basically, I want to be pulled into a story right away.

I love this Quote by Stephen King-

“A book won’t stand or fall on the very first line of prose — the story has got to be there, and that’s the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice — it’s the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there’s incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.” – Stephen King

Below are some of my favorites that I’ve collected. For some strange reason that first sentence in these stories pulled me into the pages and captivated me. They may not work the same for you. And that’s fine. But for me, they did what they should have done.

“It Was A Pleasure to Burn.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“You’ve Been here before.” – Stephen King, Needful Things

“On the second day of December, in a year when a Georgia Peanut Farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.” – Stephen King, Dr. Sleep

“There was once a time when only God knew the day you’d die.” – Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die

“Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.” – Joe Haldeman, The Forever War

“I did two things on my seventy- fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.” – John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

“Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinover, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

‘”I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.'” – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.” 1984, George Orwell.

“It was raining the night he found me.” Tosca Lee, Demon

Now these aren’t a full list of all my favorites- But they are ones that pulled me in and kept me longing for an answer to the questions they posed in my mind…

What are some of your favorites…?

I Wish I had a TARDIS Part 1- A Chance to Escape

I need to admit something. I am a HUGE Dr. Who Fan. Would I say I’m a fanatic who watches the show endlessly and gets excited about my disappearing TARDIS coffee mug…? No, not really. But I do love the show.

So, who is The Doctor? Well, that’s a question fifty years in the making. In short . . . very short, The Doctor is a Time Lord, a race of beings from the planet Gallifrey, who developed the means of time travel. The Doctor is a being who travels through time and space, saving the earth and other planets time and time again, offering a merciful justice throughout the universe. The Doctor typically travels with a companion, someone he picks up along the way to teach, to protect, or in some cases, for protection. But what I really want to address today is the Doctor’s ship, the TARDIS.

TARDIS is an acronym for “Time and relative dimension in space.” The TARDIS is part time machine, part space ship, part living being in its own right. One of the most extraordinary things about the TARDIS, apart from the ability to travel through all of time and space, is that it is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

I wish I had a TARDIS. Sometimes the business of life simply gets to me. It bogs me down. I feel as if I have event after event going on day by day. I struggle to keep my sanity straight and I get lost in the typical day to day routine. Everything makes me feel as though I’m stuck in deep ruts with no escape. And I want to escape… I want to get away, travel back or forward- I want that chance to move beyond the ordinary and find a balance.

Do you ever feel that way? It seems more and more that’s how life is. When you work full time and try to maintain a writing career it makes you feel as if you don’t have a second for anything else. And the truth is, finding a TARDIS and escaping seems like a good idea. But let’s be honest- It won’t help. Because once you return, you’ll come face to face with those same challenges.

I had a writer friend recently tell me that they were just plum burned out. They were exhausted. They had nothing left to give. Looking at their life I had agree. No wonder they weren’t getting any writing done. No wonder they felt as if they were being crushed under an enormous weight. So I’ve decided I don’t want to get like that. But the truth is- We all, and I mean all, get sucked into the vacuum.

Writing, connecting, staying active on social media- Those are things that are very important to me. But so is my job. My family. My church. My Bible Study time. So are those times when I break a sweat and get fit. I have lot of priorities. I have a lot of things I do each week. So how do I do it…? Simple- I find the balance.

It’s easier said than done I know, but the realization is if you don’t cut, you won’t have the time do focus and be creative. Look at your life. Make a list of what’s important. Decide what can go, and what has to stay. And then, work at balancing it out throughout the week. Here’s my list below- Hope this helps.

What’s Important
Social Media
Eating right & staying in shape

What I give up-Watching Baseball
TV Shows
Going to the Movies
Watching Every College Football Game
Watching NFL