I’ve attended eight writers conferences, but none of them left me reeling (in a good way) like Realm Makers did.
There’s something freeing about being with 150 other people who get you. I felt like I entered a family reunion of best friends. In short: Realm Makers was home. (Tweet this)
Fav quote #1: “The worldview comes through the author — that’s the driving force of Christian fiction.” – Steve Laube
I miss everyone. I’ve stalked Facebook every waking moment since leaving, just to glimpse one more zombie apocalypse photo. But I’m going to let you in on why Realm Makers is now my to choice, must-go-to conference forever more. Prepare yourself for total transparency:
I made new friends, Mom!
I know a lot of people online. That’s kind of the life of an author. But at Realm Makers I got to meet everyone, finally, and totally tackle them in hugs (whether they’re huggy people or not. Sorry for those who weren’t…) No matter how well I thought I knew them via social media, real-life chat, smiles, laughs, and goofiness will always trump. One person I had a particular amount of fun with was Katie Erickson–my word war buddy. She and I were roomies, everyone asked if we were sisters (my, how I wanted to lie and say yes!), and I can’t wait to see where God takes her writing!
I got to pour in to people.
One of the most common questions I received at this conference was, “So…what do you do at a conference now that you’re published?” Well, I still have a lot to learn. My book hasn’t even been out for a whole year yet! BUT…they had a point. I acted differently at this conference. One reason might be because practically everyone knew who I was.
That’s new. (And weird.)
But I got to pour in to others. I got to share my experiences, give writing advice, listen to the stories of others, build frienships. Pure…shalom.
I’m totally behind on this whole costume thing.
I’ve worn costumes before, but not with people who totally own their costumes. This year, I dressed up as Parvin Blackwater (from my book, A Time to Die) and even climbed a cliff! (Okay, it was just a minor stone tower…) But I met Sherlock Holmes, a Twi’lek family, Toothless, an X-wing, and many other incredible characters who stayed in character all through the costume dinner.
Next year, you just wait…my costume will be epic.
I still have so much to learn about marketing.
The incredible Suzy Q and her husband, Shawn Kuhn, blew my mind with a one-on-one meeting and then four hours of marketing workshops! I’m so ready to take the next step in marketing (yeah, I’m the weird author who likes that sort of stuff.)
I got to be myself
I can be professional. I was trained by my Dad from an early age, to don the professional attitude when needed. This is a great talent to have, but sometimes the dork-Nadine slips out. At Realm Makers, dork-Nadine was present all the time. And I didn’t mind one bit! Neither did other people, it seemed! I got too loud sometimes, made ridiculous faces and voices, got all klutzy when I got too tired (yes, I did totally eat pavement in front of a bunch of fellow authors), and talked about Harry Potter without feeling like an overpowering fangirl. (Jennette Mbewe rocked a Harry Potter costume, complete with chocolate frogs!
My life was changed.
This is one I’m not sure how to elaborate on, because I can’t pinpoint exactly how. All I know is I’m not the same. There’s this bittersweet longing to be back with everyone again, sharing our passions and weirdness. All the introverts coming out of their boxes, or scooting their boxes closer to each other. There was an awakening in others, in myself…I’m changed.
And I’m going back next year.
Fav Quote #2: “It’s more important for a cover to create a mood than to tell the story.” – Kirk DouPonce
My Post-Conference Advice:
I may be having Realm Maker withdrawals, but we have to move forward somehow and I wanted to share my advice with fellow conferees who are suffering as I am. (Tweet this) Now that we’re all home…
1. Write a list of the encouraging things you heard at this conference. (Tweet this)
Do it. NOW. Because in a week you won’t remember the details or the exact phrasing. In two weeks, you’ll be working on your novel and you’ll hit the wall of discouragement like we all do every other time we open that document. Being able to look up at the post-it note or framed list of positive encouragement you received from PROFESSIONALS will be a fantastic reminder of God’s affirmation for your writing calling.
Write down those phrases word for word, every time you go to a conference. Keep them in a place where you’ll see it when you’re discouraged.
2. Do the things that important people asked you to do!
I cover this a bit in my Tips for Going To A Writers Conference post, but still….send in that proposal, or those three chapters, or that full manuscript. If you’re not ready, then send an e-mail letting them know when you WILL be sending it. Don’t just neglect these requests.
3. Go through the business cards you received from others and connect with them.
Stay in touch! This is where you meet that person who ends up offering you a contract four years down the road, or who becomes your most valuable critique buddy, or who makes it big and gets a foot in the door for you, or who will encourage you down the long road of writing. Don’t miss this opportunity. Find their social media, connect, and keep connecting all the way until the next years’ conference!
Fav Quote #3: “The devil’s more likely to show up in a bonnet than with fangs.” – Mike Duran
I know that if I wrack my brain, I could squeeze out more than three pieces of advice, but those are the main ones that popped into my head.
For anyone who’s attended Realm Makers or another conference: what’s a highlight?
For those who have yet to attend a conference, what do you look forward to from your first conference?