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Realm Makers 2013: An Expanding Vision

The first Realm Makers conference at The University of Missouri on Aug. 2 to 3, 2013, will focus on Christian-speculative authors. Yet organizer Rebecca P. Minor says that may only be the beginning.
| Mar 22, 2013 | No comments

On August 2-3, 2013, a core group of self-professed nerds are going to try something a just a little bit terrifying — we’re going to hold a conference just for people of faith who love science-fiction, fantasy, and all their odd offshoots.

logo_realmmakersThe event is called Realm Makers, and it will take place on the campus of The University of Missouri, St. Louis, in their JC Penney conference center.

One might ask if there’s really any demand for such a thing — on the surface, Realm Makers looks a lot like a typical writers conference, except many of the classes will speak directly to the writers of “weird stuff.” For example, we’ll be talking about world-building, fight choreography, Star Wars, science, and magic.

A little over a year ago, a group of speculative fiction enthusiasts were talking online about science fiction and fantasy conventions, and how many of us would like to attend one, but how the pervasive presence of scantily-clad “booth girls,” the glorification of dark and evil ideals, and the sometimes-antagonistic tone toward Christianity made an otherwise awesome environment too uncomfortable for some fans. Half-jokingly, I suggested we needed a “con” of our own. One where we could talk about the stories we love, but conduct the discussion through the filter of our worldview. One where there might not be so many chain mail bikinis. Though I expected people to laugh, they didn’t. They agreed with me. The enthusiasm and excitement about the idea began to boil.

In order to keep the first attempt at Realm Makers manageable, we pared the idea of a full-blown convention down to a writers conference, since my main area of contact is with the fiction community. The long-term goal, however, is to expand the vision to bring together not only authors, but filmmakers, illustrators, comic book and graphic novel artists, and fans. It’s my hope that some of the discussions during this first year will help generate the momentum to forge toward this goal.

For this year, even with just us writers, we have some exciting content lined up. Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press/Hinterlands will serve as our keynote speaker, and we’ll have courses taught by industry professionals such as Bryan Davis, Kathy Tyers, Chila Woychik, L.B. Graham, Grace Bridges, and a host of others I can’t squeeze in here.

Fantasy novelist and Realm Makers conference organizer Rebecca P. Minor

Fantasy novelist and Realm Makers conference organizer Rebecca P. Minor.

You can expect the conference to tackle some of the tough issues of being both a Christian and a fan of the speculative arts. Where is the line between appropriate, realistic content and glorifying mankind’s sin nature? Does the world still need books about upstanding heroes? Can and should a Christian artist work in the mainstream market? How can we reach beyond simplistic allegory and sermonizing in our stories? What’s on the horizon for established franchises as well as newcomers to the publishing world?

Around the beginning of April, we will finalize the cost of attendance at the event, but the expectation is that the registration will run somewhere between $150-$200. Registration will open in May. The accommodations for the conference are right on the campus of the university, so while they might not be glamorous, the price will be right. And you can guarantee the company will be excellent.

It’s my hope that this first instance of Realm Makers will begin an annual symposium where great ideas and even greater relationships can take shape. Keep an eye on FaithandFantasyAlliance.com for developing details.

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28 Comments on "Realm Makers 2013: An Expanding Vision"

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Shannon McNear
Member

This is an AWESOME idea. Several years ago, a group from Christian Fandom (longtime con-goers who are also Christians) tried to put something similar together, but it fizzled, so I’m happy to hear of this coming together!

Speaking of, has anyone been in contact with Christian Fandom to see if there’s interest from that quarter? I’m no longer a member (just cannot keep up with everything at this season of life), but I know people I could forward this post to …

Shannon McNear
Member

This is an AWESOME idea. Several years ago, a group from Christian Fandom (longtime con-goers who are also Christians) tried to put something similar together, but it fizzled, so I’m happy to hear of this coming together!

Speaking of, has anyone been in contact with Christian Fandom to see if there’s interest from that quarter? I’m no longer a member (just cannot keep up with everything at this season of life), but I know people I could forward this post to …

Ben Avery
Guest

This is fantastic and exciting. Awesome! I hope things go well!

Ben Avery
Guest

This is fantastic and exciting. Awesome! I hope things go well!

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YAY!  This makes my inner geek melt with joy.  ^_^  I yearn to attend, but it would be too hard this year, with a nursing baby to care for and a family vacation already planned for the fall.  But I wish all the best to those who are planning Realm Makers and those who attend!
Will the courses be recorded and sold afterward?  That would be fantastic for those of us who can’t come in person!  🙂

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YAY!  This makes my inner geek melt with joy.  ^_^  I yearn to attend, but it would be too hard this year, with a nursing baby to care for and a family vacation already planned for the fall.  But I wish all the best to those who are planning Realm Makers and those who attend!
Will the courses be recorded and sold afterward?  That would be fantastic for those of us who can’t come in person!  🙂

Gillian Bronte Adams
Member

This sounds awesome! Just the sort of conference I’d love to attend. Don’t think I’ll be able to make it this time due to a previous engagement, but my brain’s still scrambling to figure out ways for me to attend. What if . . . 
Hope it goes well!
 

Gillian Bronte Adams
Member

This sounds awesome! Just the sort of conference I’d love to attend. Don’t think I’ll be able to make it this time due to a previous engagement, but my brain’s still scrambling to figure out ways for me to attend. What if . . . 
Hope it goes well!
 

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Already I’m seeing some expected reactions to this conference. Something like:

Wow! This sound exactly what my group, [Group X], has been doing all along too!

… Which has already prompted me to make an observation like this:

Yes, I’d thought of that, and several other separate Christian-speculative “splinter groups” whose members may still suspect they’re in the minority.

This is a great chance for them all to find out that:

  1. They’re not all that unique.
  2. This is a good thing!
  3. Coming all together, we have more market for these stories than we’d thought, so they are not “weird” or “niche” or any of those (artificial?) limitations.
  4. This is also a good thing, not just for storytelling, but for the Body of Christ.
E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Already I’m seeing some expected reactions to this conference. Something like:

Wow! This sound exactly what my group, [Group X], has been doing all along too!

… Which has already prompted me to make an observation like this:

Yes, I’d thought of that, and several other separate Christian-speculative “splinter groups” whose members may still suspect they’re in the minority.

This is a great chance for them all to find out that:

  1. They’re not all that unique.
  2. This is a good thing!
  3. Coming all together, we have more market for these stories than we’d thought, so they are not “weird” or “niche” or any of those (artificial?) limitations.
  4. This is also a good thing, not just for storytelling, but for the Body of Christ.
Karen
Guest

This sounds great 🙂 It definitely would be wonderful to have a conference dedicated entirely to this genre.
I know you probably don’t have the specific scheduling yet but do you have a rough idea of when it would start and end on Friday and Saturday?

Karen
Guest

This sounds great 🙂 It definitely would be wonderful to have a conference dedicated entirely to this genre.
I know you probably don’t have the specific scheduling yet but do you have a rough idea of when it would start and end on Friday and Saturday?

Karen
Guest

How many people can you have in the on campus rooms? And how much per room? If I get to attend it will be as part of a larger trip to visit family in that part of the country, so there’ll be a group of us (I will be the only one attending the conference. The kiddos and grandparents will roam St. Louis).

Sorry to pester you with questions. I’m just excited. I haven’t been to a writer’s conference in at least ten years, maybe longer. Do I get bonus points if I dress the kids up as hobbits? 😛

Karen
Guest

How many people can you have in the on campus rooms? And how much per room? If I get to attend it will be as part of a larger trip to visit family in that part of the country, so there’ll be a group of us (I will be the only one attending the conference. The kiddos and grandparents will roam St. Louis).

Sorry to pester you with questions. I’m just excited. I haven’t been to a writer’s conference in at least ten years, maybe longer. Do I get bonus points if I dress the kids up as hobbits? 😛

Austin Gunderson
Member

It’s times like this I wished I lived in the east …

Paul Lee
Member

I was thinking, it’s times like this I wished I lived in the west. 😉

Paul Lee
Member

I was thinking, it’s times like this I wished I lived in the west. 😉

Austin Gunderson
Member

It’s times like this I wished I lived in the east …

Galadriel
Guest

While I can’t attend, sending my best wishes and good cheer for you guys! I’d love to go too.

Galadriel
Guest

While I can’t attend, sending my best wishes and good cheer for you guys! I’d love to go too.

Jennette Mbewe
Member

I so want to go to this…maybe a miracle will happen 🙂
I’ve tried to convince my hubby we should celebrate our anniversary in St. Louis this year (Aug 3) ha! We shall see.
More power to y’all!

Jennette Mbewe
Member

I so want to go to this…maybe a miracle will happen 🙂
I’ve tried to convince my hubby we should celebrate our anniversary in St. Louis this year (Aug 3) ha! We shall see.
More power to y’all!

Michelle R. Wood
Member

I’m very excited about this conference: finally, I’ll be able to put more than an avatar to the people I’ve come to know in this community. And hearing Jeff Gerke or Kathy Tyers in person: awesome!

Michelle R. Wood
Member

I’m very excited about this conference: finally, I’ll be able to put more than an avatar to the people I’ve come to know in this community. And hearing Jeff Gerke or Kathy Tyers in person: awesome!

Rebekah Loper
Member

Ooooh, this looks awesome, and actually within driving distance of where I live. Now to figure out if I know anyone in St. Louis …

Rebekah Loper
Member

Ooooh, this looks awesome, and actually within driving distance of where I live. Now to figure out if I know anyone in St. Louis …

Deborah Cullins Smith
Guest
Deborah Cullins Smith

Will try to get my registration fee set aside next month while I have half a chance at pulling that much out of my hat! 🙂 I’m IN!! I live just over the river on the Illinois side, but only about 1/2 an hour away. Will probably plan to stay in the housing though. Transportation is difficult — I’m disabled and can’t drive — so living on campus for the weekend will be easier than trying to find a driver to get me back and forth. Looking forward to this!!!

Deborah Cullins Smith
Guest
Deborah Cullins Smith

Will try to get my registration fee set aside next month while I have half a chance at pulling that much out of my hat! 🙂 I’m IN!! I live just over the river on the Illinois side, but only about 1/2 an hour away. Will probably plan to stay in the housing though. Transportation is difficult — I’m disabled and can’t drive — so living on campus for the weekend will be easier than trying to find a driver to get me back and forth. Looking forward to this!!!

Krysti
Guest

Becky,
I really want to find a way to come. I do hope you’ll keep us informed!
Krysti

Krysti
Guest

Becky,
I really want to find a way to come. I do hope you’ll keep us informed!
Krysti

Greg Mitchell
Member

This sounds pretty awesome. I think the fam and I are gonna try and make it!

Greg Mitchell
Member

This sounds pretty awesome. I think the fam and I are gonna try and make it!

Zachary Totah
Editor

When I first discovered the plan for this conference, I was immediately intrigued. The  more I learn about it, the more appealing it sounds. I’m definitely considering coming, as I think an event like this is just what I need at this stage in my writing endeavors.

Zachary Totah
Editor

When I first discovered the plan for this conference, I was immediately intrigued. The  more I learn about it, the more appealing it sounds. I’m definitely considering coming, as I think an event like this is just what I need at this stage in my writing endeavors.

Patrick McGuire
Guest

I came over here because of a reference on Christian Fandom.
Although I have heard Christian fans express extreme discomfort at the atmosphere at sf cons, and I have occasionally experienced much milder discomfort myself, I’m somewhat croggled by the notion of “booth girls” at an sf con.  (On rereading, I decided I may be taking what was meant as a far-fetched comparison too literally, but the rest of this comment assumes otherwise.)  I have never seen a booth girl and an sf con, and the very fact that Rebecca can mention it with a straight face suggests that her own experience of secular sf cons is next to zero.  (Possibly things are different at media cons, but these should not be confused with normal fan-run sf conventions.)  At some cons there are scantily clad females to be found, but they are so dressed of their own volition, not because they are being paid to attract males to a booth, as at some business conventions.   If you folks are using sf cons as a model, it might be nice if you had some people among your organizers who have actually attended such things!  It seems to me, however, that you are actually using a model more like Mythcon.  Nothing wrong with that per se, and (at least in past years; I have not been to one recently) Mythcons have been a place where some Christian fans feel more comfortable than at sf cons.  But they’re not the same thing, and not even particularly closely related.
Nonetheless, I wish you luck (and if this becomes a regular thing I might attend in future years, although likely not in 2013).      –Patrick

Patrick McGuire
Guest

I came over here because of a reference on Christian Fandom.
Although I have heard Christian fans express extreme discomfort at the atmosphere at sf cons, and I have occasionally experienced much milder discomfort myself, I’m somewhat croggled by the notion of “booth girls” at an sf con.  (On rereading, I decided I may be taking what was meant as a far-fetched comparison too literally, but the rest of this comment assumes otherwise.)  I have never seen a booth girl and an sf con, and the very fact that Rebecca can mention it with a straight face suggests that her own experience of secular sf cons is next to zero.  (Possibly things are different at media cons, but these should not be confused with normal fan-run sf conventions.)  At some cons there are scantily clad females to be found, but they are so dressed of their own volition, not because they are being paid to attract males to a booth, as at some business conventions.   If you folks are using sf cons as a model, it might be nice if you had some people among your organizers who have actually attended such things!  It seems to me, however, that you are actually using a model more like Mythcon.  Nothing wrong with that per se, and (at least in past years; I have not been to one recently) Mythcons have been a place where some Christian fans feel more comfortable than at sf cons.  But they’re not the same thing, and not even particularly closely related.
Nonetheless, I wish you luck (and if this becomes a regular thing I might attend in future years, although likely not in 2013).      –Patrick

Walt
Member

Patrick,
Well, I took “booth girls” to be a euphemism for scantily clad females.   In that sense “scantily clad females” is what are found (seen) at SF conventions.  And, I’ve attended SF conventions from 1969-1979 (2 WorldCons) and more recently during this decade…    It’s certainly not confined to the masquerade ball anymore!

While not completely uncomfortable at secular gatherings, I wouldn’t mind attending an SF & F conference with an emphasis on Christian fans and writers.  St Louis would be the ideal place since that’s where I discovered SF and fandom.  Too bad I have a major conflict the following week in Pittsburgh.
Walt…
 
 

Walt
Member

Patrick,
Well, I took “booth girls” to be a euphemism for scantily clad females.   In that sense “scantily clad females” is what are found (seen) at SF conventions.  And, I’ve attended SF conventions from 1969-1979 (2 WorldCons) and more recently during this decade…    It’s certainly not confined to the masquerade ball anymore!

While not completely uncomfortable at secular gatherings, I wouldn’t mind attending an SF & F conference with an emphasis on Christian fans and writers.  St Louis would be the ideal place since that’s where I discovered SF and fandom.  Too bad I have a major conflict the following week in Pittsburgh.
Walt…
 
 

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