It’s hard to believe it’s been six weeks since the Realm Makers writers’ conference.
After it was over, I spent almost a month visiting friends and family in sunny California. I’m finally back in New Zealand (with spring right around the corner), and I’ve had some time to reflect and collect my thoughts about the experience.
And what a wonderful experience it was! For starters, check out the beautiful graphic designed by Kurt DouPonce from Dog Eared Design.
Is that mermaid gorgeous, or what? As soon as I saw her, my expectations were raised. And I wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t know how to fit it all in without rambling on for pages (not to mention exhausting the world’s supply of superlatives), so I’ll confine myself to a countdown of 5 fantastic reasons why I loved Realm Makers–with a heaaaaaap of pictures 😉
#5 Books and more books
It wouldn’t be a writers’ con without books.
I had high hopes for the Realm Makers marketplace, but I definitely had my mind blown.
Imagine a bookstore stocked with all your favourite speculative authors. And then throw in some amazing merchandise! T-shirts. Steampunk jewelry. Handcrafted wands. Bookmarks. Lapel pins. I didn’t know where to look first.
I was like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. I wanted all the pretty things.
Then I had to face the unhappy reality that everything I purchased would have to make it back to New Zealand with me. Boo for baggage restrictions!
So I exercised great restraint. And ended up with an extra 15 lbs of books anyway. I’m thankful the volunteers staffing the bookstore were so patient with my many, many purchases when I decided to swing by for ‘just one more.’
#4 The costumes
Friday night was the big awards banquet, and the costumes were spectacular. As a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s six thousand:
#3 A thought-provoking keynote speaker
Ted Dekker is a best-selling author for a reason. He can tell stories like no one I’ve ever met. He’s engaging, articulate, and full of passion for writing and for God. I could’ve listened to him for hours! He shared his background of growing up as the child of missionaries in Papua New Guinea and how that East/West clash of cultures shaped him.
He encouraged us to dive deeply into what makes us unique, really embrace who we are and what experiences we’ve had, so authenticity will come out in our writing. Plus, he’s a lot of fun to hang out with as evidenced by my attempts to take a selfie with him.
#2 The stellar faculty and staff
Everything about the conference spoke of a commitment to excellence. The venue. The food. The organisation.
But let me tell you about the faculty and staff.
These folks are quality! The continuing education track with Mary Weber and James L. Rubart was uplifting and encouraging. I felt a renewed sense of purpose with my writing and that I was part of a larger story. And David Farland shared his tips for building a realistic yet magical world and how to write a series that will grab fans’ attention.
I had mentor appointments with Kristen Stieffel to talk about editing, Ralene Burke to chat about social media, and Kat Heckenbach to discuss the pros and cons of indie publishing. And hovering over all the proceedings were the amazing founders of Realm Maker, Scott and Becky Minor. I’m so thankful for their vision to nurture speculative writers.
This is only a smattering of the wonderfully talented team who made this con possible.
But the bestest and brightest reason of all for going to Realm Makers is to hang out with all my writer-ly friends.
At the top on my list was hugging this gorgeous girl.
Deanna and I have blogged together for a few years now though have never had a chance to meet. I was jet-lagged and bleary-eyed when I finally made it to Reno after 24 hours of travel. Fortunately, she was in the resort lobby when my shuttle van arrived and pounced on me before I could even check in. She’s just celebrated the release of her debut YA dystopian, Ending Fear, and it was great to hold it in my hands.
Then there’s my critique group, the Ever Afters, who I’ve been involved with since the beginning of 2017. I got to hang out with (and, ahem, throw a few spitballs at) Jill, Sarah, and Deanna in-between sessions. There’s something amazing about seeing the online community I’ve bared my soul to live and in person for the first time. These women have been my sanity for the past few months as I’ve finished up my manuscript, and it’s such a joy to read what they’ve written and exchange helpful tips and grammar advice. We got up to no end of shenanigans during the all too short time we had together.
And I can’t forget my awesome roomies: Michele Harper, author and L2L2 editor extraordinaire; Sarah Garner, author of my favourite mermaid story, Sinking, and Michele’s lovely mum who mothered us all over the weekend with her sweetness. We stayed up most nights until 2 or 3am talking, laughing, and consuming copious amounts of chocolate. I even got a chance to bring coffee to my boss, Michele, like a proper assistant should.
So many wonderful people; I left with my heart full ❤
See you next time, Realm Makers!
Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.
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Have you been? Do you agree with my conclusions? Let us know in the comments.