One of the most common questions we get from new attendees is what they should expect at Realm Makers. It’s quite a loaded question as no 2 years have ever been the same, and each year seems better than the last.
A few interesting facts about #RealmMakers2017 …
- This is our first year in a hotel. In the past, we’ve always been at small universities and stayed in dorms.
- We brought back the author book signing on Saturday night, but it’s set up a little differently than before.
- This is our first time out west!
- We’ll have some exciting announcements at the conference …
So, while there are things we can tell you to expect, there’s lots we can’t!
Expect Great Workshops: We try to find the best of the best in speculative fiction, whether from the Christian market or the general market. We want our attendees to learn from the best, no matter their path. Our faculty is amazing, and their workshops are full of information and wisdom. Be prepared to take notes and learn!
Expect Great Books: Our bookstore is the perfect place to find the next book to add to your TBR pile. And as most of the authors are there at the conference, you might even get it signed! Whether great fiction or books on craft, you better make room in your luggage! And this year, we also have a vendor hall adjacent to the bookstore where you can find other geeky stuff, like handmade jewelry and art or services from freelance editors and book cover designers.
Expect Great Opportunities: From pitch appointments, meals, and hallway brushes to workshops, panels, and late night gatherings, opportunities abound at Realm Makers. Opportunities to make connections, network, brainstorm, learn … Sometimes it takes a lot to put ourselves out there, especially if we’re introverted, but conferences are the place to do that!
Expect to be Entertained: Have you met Ben Wolf and Avily Jerome? Need I say more? Okay, okay … We have lots of fun packed in with the learning and networking. Skits, games, raffles … And didn’t someone say something about an awards banquet that encourages costumes? We even have a NERF war to protect the conference from zombies.
Expect the Normal Stuff: When you walk into the conference area, there will be a table to register at. The volunteers will have packets for you, which will have the program booklet (map included), your appointments, and other information you might need. Everything is on one floor this year. There is a main room where we will have keynote presentations and meals. Workshop rooms around it.
- Tired. It’s true. Whether from late nights and early mornings or from being around people all day, conferences are exhausting. Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to yourself in a quiet corner or grab a 30-minute nap if needed.
- Overwhelmed. Especially if this is your first time at a conference. All the excitement, all the opportunities … There’s really no way to avoid feeling overwhelmed, but we encourage you to face it head on. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and dive in.
- Embraced. My name is Ralene Burke, and I’m a hugger. Granted, I do try to save hugs for the second time I meet someone. In all seriousness, I do mean physically embraced, but also brought into the “family,” the tribe. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be part of this group, to know there is a spot just for you. And there is a spot for everyone.
- Prayed for. We have some mighty prayer warriors who have been praying for Realm Makers for months. We have people who will be praying for us AT the conference. And there will be people willing to pray for you, if you need it, throughout the conference. So, if you’re anxious, overwhelmed, tired … don’t be afraid to pull someone aside. And if you see someone in need, don’t be afraid to ask to pray with them–or to pray for them anyway.
- Cold. Or hot. If you are prone to being cold, bring a sweater to the conference. If you’re prone to being hot, dress in light layers. A perk this year is that we are in a hotel, so you can always go change if you need to.
But that isn’t all …
When we open ourselves to new opportunities and new connections, it’s amazing what God can bring forth. Here are just a few examples of some things that have occurred at or as a result of Realm Makers …
- Small publishers excited about speculative fiction have formed.
- At least one group came together to start a spec-fic podcast.
- People found like-minded writers to join forces with as critique groups/partners.
- The zombies did not take over the world.
- A man got down on one knee to propose to his (now) bride, while another couple met at Realm Makers and married earlier this year.
- A man, who registered for Realm Makers last minute and only intended to learn, found himself with a contract before the end of the conference.
- Batman and Superman sat down for a meal.
- Tosca Lee wore a bacon dress.
- 3 people have won amazing, handmade cloaks.
- A group of attendees survived Escape the Room Philly, while most attendees survived “the tunnel.”
And these are a just a few examples of the amazing things that happen at Realm Makers. And this year is already shaping up to be even better.
And, yes, there’s usually some kind of cake at the awards banquet.