Now more than ever, I’m sure that 2019 marks a turnaround year for fans of excellent, fantastical Christian-made stories.
I say this because I just got back from Realm Makers Bookstore. This traveling wood-between-the-worlds exhibited March 7–9 at Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. I helped on behalf of Lorehaven Magazine (which I publish), and all Christian fans of fantastical stories.
Scott and Becky Minor, founders of Realm Makers, started Realm Makers Bookstore in 2017. They’ve since taken this show on the road to many cities, fan conventions, and homeschool conferences.
Yet until last weekend, I only saw this enterprise in action at the Realm Makers conference. There, the bookstore is run and attended by (mostly) fantasy authors. Fans made only cameos. By “fans,” I mean Christian readers who aren’t also published authors.
But in Fort Worth, as in many locations that hosted the bookstore last year, things are very different.
Realm Makers Bookstore: Beyond authors, blogs, and ‘writing industry’
At Realm Makers Bookstore, we’re helping fans find these amazing novels by Christians authors.
We’re connecting with people, asking what they need, and matching them with the best books.
We got to meet so many amazing people:
- Homeschool moms and dads
- Curious grandparents
- Teenagers who love finding new fantasy
- Pre-teens exploring way over their “reading level”
- Adorable young children
A typical Realm Makers Bookstore guest meeting:
(Person walks past, carrying shopping bags or babies, likely accompanied by children.)
REALM MAKERS BOOKSTORE HOST
(Scott Minor, Becky Minor, Gillian Bronte Adams, or myself):
Hello! We have more than sixty Christian authors. Fantasy, science fiction, and beyond. These are folks we know and can recommend.
(curious, comes closer, sees the books)
Oh, my son/daughter won’t stop reading. I can barely keep up with him/her.
We have books for all ages, such as (educated guess of ages of parent’s nearby children). What does your child like to read?
Oh, books about . . .
And off we went, many times, until the parent ended up finding the perfect selections.
Or, if our guest was a teenager, he or she found a fantastic read in fantasy, science fiction, or fantastical genres.
We heard a lot of people say things like . . .
“I had no idea these books were out there!”
“Oh, (name of fantasy-fan child or friend) needs to see this.”
“My child reads these kinds of books all the time. I need to know more.”
“I’m heading to a session now, but I’ll come back!”
(Narrator: “She did come back.”)
(From pre-teen or teenager) “I’m writing a novel too. . . .”
(Proceeds to describe it at length.)
“Do you have a catalog?”
Lorehaven Magazine: a much-needed resource
We also sold print copies of Lorehaven Magazine. (These are exclusive to events, because Lorehaven isn’t mailed to subscribers.)
As Lorehaven‘s publisher, I always made it clear that this magazine is available free online. You only need to subscribe. For free.
But, especially on the last day, several people bought print copies anyway. Sometimes there’s just nothing like print.
If people saw or picked up a magazine, I would say:
“That’s Lorehaven Magazine. I’m the publisher, Stephen. This is a free resource for parents to help them explore Christian-made fantastical novels for the glory of Jesus Christ. We have reviews, articles, and blogs. You can pick up a print copy now, or subscribe for free online. Here’s a free mission card that shares more.”
I heard people tell me things like:
“Oh, we so need a resource like this.”
“Sure, I’d like to subscribe.”
“That sounds amazing.”
Several parents asked about the content of specific magazines.
If people were browsing certain books, I could share any Lorehaven review of that book.1 Occasionally I’d open a magazine to show what we said about a particular title.
I had fantastic conversations with people about the concept and purpose of fantastical fiction, by Christians or otherwise.
Sometimes I’d say, “We love fantastical stories wherever we find them. But we have a special love for stories created by our brothers and sisters in the Church, if they’re based in biblical truth and made with excellence.”
During one conversation, I learned about one mother’s concerns about her teenagers’ love for fantasy. It turns out two Lorehaven issues, with Roundtable discussions about violence and fictional magic, perfectly addressed this topic. Her sense of grace, dedication to her children’s good, and faithfulness to the Bible were a total inspiration to me.
Oh, the children!
Have you ever looked back and realized someone changed your life by introducing you to an amazing story?
Well, I wonder how many times we may have done this at Realm Makers Bookstore.
One little red-headed girl, Melissa, proved a big fan of Adventures in Odyssey. She loved the AiO books (and a few audio drama sets) that we featured in the young-readers section. As a pro AiO fan from the early ’90s, I struck up a conversation. We both recited Focus on the Family’s Colorado Springs mailing address (as repeated by announcer Chris at each episode’s end). We recalled stories. And we geeked out.
Melissa left to rejoin her parents, then later returned and they picked up a few books.
One teenage reader, Jeremy, also geeked out. He bought books, subscribed to Lorehaven, and shared how he and his friends were writing collaborative fantasy in many genres. This chap was passionate, outgoing, biblically grounded, and a total unabashed fan.
Christian fantasy fan, your mission . . .
Melissa, Jeremy, and thousands of young fans like them are the future of Christian fantasy.
If you want to see this future come true, become a fantastical fan of Realm Makers Bookstore. Shop for the best books at the website.
If you’re an author, sign up for the annual conference.
A fan of these stories? Visit the bookstore when it comes to your area. Later this month, Realm Makers Bookstore heads to Greenville, South Carolina, from March 21 to 23. The bookstore then visits Nashville from March 28 to 30. Next month, the bookstore will feature at Great Homeschool Convention’s event in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Lorehaven Magazine will host its own booth at Waco’s Teach Them Diligently convention, April 11–13. We’d love to meet you there and share excellent, Christian-made fantastical fandom together.