Last Saturday, Realm Makers 2019, the organization’s seventh conference, concluded in St. Louis.
Otherwise, your best sources for photos and recaps are at Realm Makers on Facebook and on Instagram. Stop by my Instagram feed and/or my Facebook feed for more photos and moments. We’ve also shared plenty at the Lorehaven page on Facebook.
Meanwhile, however, I want to share a total of one hundred graces. That’s one hundred of God’s gifts I enjoy through Realm Makers.
Today starts with part 1. Then this series will continue here on SpecFaith, or over at my own site portal, EStephenBurnett.com.
Realm Makers 2019: One hundred graces, 1–25
- Our venue, this year and last year: the Sheraton Westport Chalet in St. Louis, Missouri. Such an accessible, professional yet charming hotel. It had plenty of space for the Realm Makers conference at this stage. Now we’re bigger, and next year, we’re going to Atlantic City, New Jersey. I look forward to that, but I shall miss this venue—my favorite Realm Makers meeting spot yet.
- So many amazing friends. Even if I got cynical and gave up writing forever, I might attend conferences just to re-gather with them!
- The Realm Makers Bookstore. This operation has just gotten better: better novels, better accessibility, and better ability to reach new fans to share these amazing stories.
- Great faculty. They seem to rotate with each conference, and each year, they’re sharing great ideas about biblical truth and fantastic creativity.
- This year’s keynote speaker, bestselling novelist Brent Weeks, basically preached. And this despite himself. His keynote was winsome, organized, and deeply Christian, right down to his testimony of coming to Christ as a young adult. His concluding address brought in challenges from his writing life, including even his pressure to perform and realization that he had to care for his family first.
- Terry Brooks. Total class act. Took to this conference like a duck to water. Both him and his amazing wife, Judine.
- Scott and Becky Minor. They have taken the chance on this “little conference” and God is blessing their risk. And they’ve done this while doing their best to pursue integrity and fidelity to the gospel, while managing the challenges of running a Christian conference in a professionally creative world. It’s been a joy for me to work with them more with Realm Makers Bookstore this year.
- The Realm Makers costume banquet. This here is how you do God-exalting cosplay. (I nearly typed that as a rather cheesy evangelical-Freudian slip, gosplay.) It’s fandom, it’s fun, it’s creative, and it’s all based in fellowship and inclusion.
- Even the great restaurants near this venue provide inexpensive, convenient, and spacious places for gathering with friends.
- I’ll get into those friends by name, but I love meeting brand-new conference attenders each year!
- This year, members not only had the usual genre-stickers on their badges, to show what kinds of stories they write. Conference organizers also made a special label, TALKABLE, to indicate whether new or introverted persons could safely approach you to introduce themselves. Yes, I applied this label. Yes, people approached me. (And yes, I once thought I was “introverted.” What a notion.)
- Amazing books. Just everywhere: indie-published, self-published, traditionally published.
- The music. This year, someone made sure that epic film soundtracks played over the bookstore area audio during the mingling before the costume banquet. Also, several people played Hans Zimmer excellence on the hotel piano.
- Also, musician novelist Keith A. Robinson enjoyed playing several familiar fandom themes on his ocarina.
- Keith A. Robinson. What a great guy; I enjoyed getting to know him better. (He’s coming to SpecFaith this Friday.)
- The panel discussion about PG-13 content and speculative fiction. I could (and may) write a whole article just based on this discussion, and not just because I was on the panel—along with moderator Randy Streu, C. W. Briar, Robert Liparulo, Brent Weeks, and Terry Brooks.
- I had several deeper discussions with people who had experienced some recent and drastic life trauma. Nevertheless, they managed to make it to the conference. Please pray for these dear, faithful, creative persons.
- I got to hear some updates about exciting upcoming (non-fantastical fiction) projects from Tyndale House Publishers.
- This year’s new addition, the hospitality suite (sponsored by Laura VanArendonk Baugh), was amazing.
- Enclave Publishing is on the move, and I also got to hear some updates about what they’re planning for next year.
- Kerry Nietz and Steve Rzasa, two original Enclave authors and first-rate science-fiction crafters. I’m happy to count them both as friends and colleagues in this expanding mission to share, and create, excellent fantastical stories for the glory of God.
- Also, Kerry and I got to geek out over the Star Trek: Picard trailer, then share this geekiness with Steve Rzasa, novelist Joshua A. Johnston, and several other “Realmies.”
- Marian Jacobs, Lorehaven columnist and friend, was amazing. So was her wind-up-automaton costume, months in the making.
- Havok magazine publisher Andrew Winch makes a great Captain America. Then, during the costume banquet, you should have seen how he photo-bombed the costume contest with a swift Cap-dash across stage and a perfectly timed, “On your left.”
- Yes, I pitched a few fiction projects. And yes, the pitching went well. I enjoyed not only recommending my own work but hearing about these other publishers’ work! Time will tell whether any of my own fiction (not oft discussed here) will find a wider audience.
Onward to the next 25, either here on Speculative Faith or to be continued on my own site!