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Realm Makers 2015: Response Roundup

Here’s a roundup of 12 reactions from guests of the 2015 Realm Makers conference.
| Aug 25, 2015 | 4 comments |
From the Realm Makers debut conference, 2013 (Stephen Burnett)

From the Realm Makers debut conference, 2013 (Stephen Burnett)

I don’t always attend Realm Makers.

But when I don’t, I share the topics I would have sneaked into conversations that I believe can help Christian-fantastical-fiction advocacy grow and mature.

Also when I don’t, I also love reading the responses of those who did attend the recent con.

Ralene Burke and other Realm Makers conference organizers:

From Robert Liparulo’s inspiring keynote to the array of informative and motivational workshops taught by some amazing teachers to the costume banquet and Zombie Apocalypse Nerf War, the weekend was jam-packed full of a little something for just about everyone who has a love of speculative fiction. 1

Linda Burklin:

If you’re an aspiring writer of speculative fiction, and if you’re a Christian, Realm Makers is the only writers conference that is aimed at you. It’s the only conference where you will be surrounded by “your people,” people as nerdy and quirky and creative as you are. At other Christian conferences you will be part of a tiny minority at best, and you may even feel a little excluded.2

Morgan Busse:

This year was a different year for me. Instead of going as an attendee, I was one of the teachers and mentors. And I loved it! I loved meeting one-on-one with budding writers and brainstorming with them, helping them with their character development or story arc, or just encouraging them on their writing journey.3

Mike Duran:

Sure, we can rage against “the industry” all we want. We can dig our heels in and call for a place at the table. But despite the negatives, this reality has forced a creative, vocal community to evolve.

  1. It has forced Christian spec writers to “leave the nest.”
  2. It has forced Christian spec writers to stretch their entrepreneurial legs.
  3. It has forced Christian spec writers to seek out new opportunities, new models, and unreached audiences.
  4. It has forced Christian spec writers to put their money where their mouths are.4

Josh Hardt:

Here’s where it gets all guts-on-the-page-y:

My identity has been worthless since age eleven. That’s been twenty-four years of me not knowing my identity in Him.

So what did I learn on my trip to St. Louis? All sorts of incredible writing advice that I’ll be unpacking – and sharing – in the coming weeks.5

Janeen Ippolito:

I’ve gone to a number of conferences over the course of my writing and teaching career. This was one of the most encouraging I have ever been to. From the faculty to the agents to my fellow conferees, everyone had a spirit of goodwill and sharing. It was a real blessing to be around such awesome geeks!6

Kat Heckenbach:

Realm Makers was awesome, so I stayed awake far too late every night and woke up far too early every day, which meant I was basically a zombie coming home yesterday. I think I may have enough brain power to post about my adventure now.

Some of my fellow Realm Makers attendees have already posted on their blogs–lovely recaps and great photos. I think I’m going to take a bit of a different twist….

This is going to be sort of a “most of” post.7

Jason C. Joyner:

If you look for posts from other attendees, you’ll see them rave about the fun, the great books and authors, the study of craft, and being fired up to keep writing.

I can say “ditto” to all of those, but Realm Makers stood out to me for a different reason.

They were the quiet moments.

Like meeting my new friend Herbert. He’s not a writer. He’s a homeless Vietnam veteran who I met on the train after arrival. We got caught in a downpour together, and we ended up sharing pizza and prayers the first night. I could’ve caught a group going to dinner if I’d gone right to the dorm. Instead, I had a cool moment with a guy in need, and with God.8

J.L. Mbewe:

It was so awesome to finally connect with so many people who I’ve only met online. And to meet many more who share the same love for speculative fiction. The classes and the keynote speaker’s messages were all spot on for me. No burning bushes, but quiet confirmation and encouragement. Seeds were planted, and I am excited to see how they will grow in the months and years to come. I hope to be able to go to Realm Makers 2016. We shall see.9

Rebecca Minor, Realm Makers conference organizer:

Let your voice be heard! Your feedback is important to us and will help us to create an even more fantastic conference next year. We want Realm Makers to be like walking into a home away from home where you can learn, socialize, and grow as a writer. Help us make this experience the best it can be!

So . . .

  1. Follow the link. http://beckyminor.polldaddy.com/s/realm-makers-2015-feedback
  2. Fill out the 12-question survey.
  3. Leave a comment here so we know you filled out the survey.
  4. You’re now entered to win a t-shirt!10

Kristen Stieffel:

Even though I know comparison is bad—as Chip Ingram has said, “comparison always leads to carnality”—I can’t help it. I look around Realm Makers (any conference, really, but for some reason this one hit me particularly hard) and it’s all I can do to suppress my envy.

I know we’re supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice, yadda yadda, and on the face of it I try, I really do. And do you know, in public, I even mean it. But in the dark of my room, alone, I wallow in the envy for just a minute or two…or thirty…before I remember to pray to have that feeling taken away from me. I don’t want it.11

Brittany Valentine:

  1. Likeminded People: When I walked into the conference room on Thursday night and saw Jeff Gerke as Luke Skywalker and Adrienne Niceley as Princess Leia, my first thought was, wow, these really are my kind of people.
  2. Unique Sessions: Where else would I get the chance hear about Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in the same session? One thing that really struck me was Jeff Gerke’s early bird session. It was so freeing when he talked about story being first. I tend to focus so much on making sure that it’s technically correct that I lose the sense of story. I can’t wait to go back over my manuscript with this in mind.


  1. The Coffee: Let’s just say we drank it anyway. Maybe next year I’ll bring a small coffee pot.12

Other Realm Makers blog responses certainly outnumber this even-dozen excerpts. Feel free to share yours below! And perhaps next year I will be able to add my own.

  1. Ralene Burke, Realm Makers Highlights, Aug. 14, 2015.
  2. Linda Burlkin, About Realm Makers, Aug. 14, 2015.
  3. Morgan Busse, Realm Makers 2015 Recap, Aug. 10, 2015.
  4. Mike Duran, The Little Spec-Fic Conference That Could, Aug. 24, 2015.
  5. Josh Hardt, Warning! Guts on Page Two., Aug. 9, 2015.
  6. Janeen Ippolito, R-E-A-L-M = Awesome! (A Realm Makers Recap), Aug. 11, 2015.
  7. Kat Heckenbach, Realm Makers 2015: “Most of” Awards, the unofficial list by Kat Heckenbach, Aug. 10, 2015.
  8. Jason C. Joyner, The Quiet Moments, Aug. 13, 2015.
  9. J.L. Mbewe, Cosplay in Action, Aug. 17, 2015.
  10. Rebecca Minor, Realm Makers 2015 Survey, Aug. 21, 2015.
  11. Kristen Stieffel, The Dark Side of Realm Makers, Aug. 14, 2015.
  12. Brittany Valentine, Fifteen Reasons why I fell in love with Realm Makers, Aug. 12, 2015.
E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor of a nonfiction book about parenting and popular culture (title TBA), to release spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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Pam Halter

Stephen, I hope you can make it next year!

Jason, you totally rock. I love that you had pizza and prayers with that Vietnam Vet soooo much!

Kat, yeah, I was pretty much a zombie by the time I got home, too.  An excited zombie … but a zombie.  😉 I’m still kinda reeling, but slowly getting back to normal. Not sure how I feel about that.  HA!

Mike, I love how you phrased it: forced us to leave the nest. That’s exactly how I feel. Nervous, but longing to soar!

Janeen, you are my fairy soul-sister. We were rocking some wings, weren’t we?

Ralene, you’re a wonderful encouragement to all of us! Especially Becky, I think.

Becky, God has done amazing things through you. I’m still uplifting you in prayer!

Brittany – you don’t have to worry about the coffee pot next year. We’ll be in MY backyard. The coffee is on me!!  😀

To use Ralphie’s quote from A Christmas Story, but in spec-speak: “Realm Makers; the thing in which the whole calendar of spec authors revolves.”  Can’t wait for next year!

Live long and prosper.

R. J. Anderson

I was already sad that prior commitments kept me from being able to attend RM this year, but now I am EXTRA SAD because it sounds like it was spectacular. Here’s hoping (and praying) for 2016…!

Adam David Collings

One day . . .

Jennette Mbewe

Great write up! Thanks for the shout out!