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Realm Makers 2019: One Hundred Graces, part 3

E. Stephen Burnett reviews graces 51 through 75, which he found at last month’s Realm Makers conference.
| Aug 13, 2019 | 4 comments | Series:

Nearly a month after the last Realm Makers conference, I’m going crazy with things to do.

Piling up are book edits, Lorehaven magazine work, and a new foster care mission(!). Also, messages. So many messages from friends and allies.

No, I’m not complaining.

Rather, this makes the fifty-first grace—a gift from God by way of his people—that I count after the Realm Makers 2019 conference.

  1. Once upon a time, when a writers’ conference ended, I came home and basically reverted to the same life. The only exception: maybe a proposal or two to ship out. But these last years have been different. I bring work home with me: contacts to follow up, renewed friendships with people to catch up with, magazine work, new recruits. And, of course, planning for the next conference(s).
  2. Lauren H. Salisbury! Apart from Grace Bridges, or perhaps Michael Ban, Lauren may have won the furthest-traveled award. She hails from the UK. And in our conversation she shared fascinating views on Christian fiction. Turns out that over there in merry ol’ post-Christian England, they actually love having some kind of literature that’s distinctly Christian in origin or theme. Yes, even the “inspirational” stuff. Yes, maybe even the Amish romances. Lauren re-taught me that snarky Christian-fiction-sneering Christians from America might need to check their privilege. Also, she was very polite when I did the whole cliched series of “what kind of accent?” questions.
  3. Every year also brings someone who has a travel-horror story. (I think I still won 2016’s top horrible story, when thanks to Hillary Clinton and thunderstorms in Philadelphia, I was marooned in Richmond, Virginia.) This year, several people’s flights were delayed or outright cancelled because of thunderstorms (but no Clinton). Thank God, everyone reached the conference safely, even if late.
  4. On the Facebook group, I offered snacks to anyone who had a tragic travel backstory. Two people took me up on this offer.
  5. Airport shuttles are one of the little blessings of life. This one, even at 10:30 p.m., confirmed the same.
  6. That Burger King open late in the St. Louis airport was exactly what I needed at this late hour.
  7. Alas, I don’t recall the name of the chap who joined me for the shuttle, heading to the conference. But it was great to meet him.
  8. No matter how late you reach the hotel, someone is already up. In this case, I got to join Steve Rzasa and Becky Dean.
  9. Bless the hotel air-conditioner for trying. But when the device changes your room between “refreshing cool” and “sticky interior,” then the overall effect ends up being “sticky interior.”
  10. Doesn’t matter. No one sleeps regularly at conferences. Somehow we get enough grace to overcome this sin.
  11. All the conversations and interactions that keep me from getting to my classes on time. Again, I’m not complaining!
  12. I was late to Wayne Thomas Batson’s class. But this fantasy author’s encouragements to maintain a disciplined writing life were spot-on.
  13. I was also late to Steve Laube’s class. He was overviewing his literary agent’s perspective on the process of a book’s acquisition and publication. I arrived just in time for all of his tragicomic “everything in the late-publication process goes desperately wrong” anecdotes. Close enough.
  14. Many thousands of dollars’ worth of printed books, with misspelled names on the spine, died to bring us this tragicomic anecdote.
  15. That Starbucks within quick walking distance was a total Godsend, especially on that first morning.
  16. It’s also great to fetch a quick breakfast at the hotel and meet people you know, and new people you want to know!
  17. Fuzzy’s Tacos. Last year plenty of us frequented this nearby fast-casual joint, which I’d previously thought was an establishment exclusive to my home in central Texas. This year I think I ended up having meals there three times in a row. (Again, not complaining.) I shall miss Fuzzy’s Tacos at the next Realm Makers (which is moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey).
Realm Makers 2019: Stephen, Rachel, Kerry, and Marian

A break from Fuzzy’s Tacos for pizza instead. From left: E. Stephen Burnett, Rachel Starr Thomson, Kerry Nietz, and Marian Jacobs.

  1. I am complaining that this year I couldn’t bring my wife, Lacy. She has joined me for the last two Realm Makers and I’d love to continue this. But this year it didn’t work. However, it’s just as fun to stay in touch with her and share with her all the news.
  2. The same is true for my friends Austin Gunderson (also Lorehaven review chieftain) and Zack Russell. Who’ll return next year. Right?
  3. Sharon Hinck! To my regret, she wasn’t even at this year’s conference. But people were still talking about her class from last year.
  4. The woman to my left at the costume banquet. She was from the local area and had accompanied her teenage daughter to the conference. Bother! I wish I could recall her name. But it was great to talk with her, and to be encouraged by her natural parenting commitment to help her daughter explore this writing interest and reflect the image of God in her.
  5. Completely unrelated: no one at Realm Makers judges you for not finishing your banquet-provided asparagus.
  6. Somehow the Lorehaven booth got a pretty good location in the bookstore.
  7. Lauren Brandenburg, author, homeschool mom, and returning Realm Makers conference emcee extraordinaire.
  8. I’ve mentioned the “TALKABLE” sticker (in part 1, number 11). But I must also draw attention to the genre stickers that, I believe, have been a part of conference badge-accessorizing since the first year. You can use a dragon for fantasy, a spaceship for sci-fi, and so on. In my case, I used both. And I could have also made up my own sticker for “nonfiction.”

Next time, I’ll wrap up this series. I’ll especially hearken to early plans for next year’s Realm Makers conference in New Jersey.

E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor (with Ted Turnau and Jared Moore) of The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ, which will release in 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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Lelia Rose Foreman

It’s always good to see you at Realm Makers.

Deborah Smith

I loved your contribution to the “Grittier than PG13 Panel”! That session alone made the whole trip worthwhile. (Though it was not the ONLY great thing about RM this year!) Hearing other more successful authors say that we need to stop “sanitizing” the worlds we build helped me to understand that I can’t present a world that isn’t realistic. That doesn’t speak of real life to most people, and they might want to linger in your world, but they won’t be able to relate to it as well. I don’t pepper my stories with profanity, or describe sex in pornographic ways, but neither can we pretend it doesn’t happen. It’s an issue I’ve struggled with myself as I’ve completed my first trilogy this summer. Thank you for participating in that panel! The things you had to say really helped.

Brie Donning

I’m up there among the furthest travelers with Australia being slightly further than New Zealand. But after coming all that way I never said hi at the Lorehaven table. Not sure why and it’s one of my few Realm Makers regrets. I got a pin, but no one was there at the time.