Realm Makers was awesome! Still one of the best experiences of my life. There's nothing quite like Realm Makers.
Before the conference started on Thursday, I, my sister, and our other roommates, Jaye L. Knight and Tricia Mingerink, went over to the St. Louis Science Center. It was cool and we had a good time hanging out. Then it was time for the conference!
Frank Peretti's keynote was really inspiring, and I had no idea he was so hilarious! He talked a lot about having a long term perspective rather than being focused on the difficulties of our current circumstances and really, about how God knows what He's doing. The things that seem bad now may actually turn out to be the best things for us. We don't want to end up marrying Hephzibah. 😉 It was also really great having a mentor session with Frank Peretti. Tricia hadn't gotten an appointment, so I invited her to come along to mine just as she'd invited me on her appointment to see Jill Williamson last time. I really enjoy doing mentor sessions together. It's a lot of fun. And we had a good conversation that reminded me to go back to the basics when plotting my stories. I really think I've been overcomplicating things.
|With Frank Peretti after my mentor session|
Kara Swanson's Shadow launch party was a lot of fun, though I didn't get any pictures. I still need to read Dust, but I'm certainly planning on it! It's been on my (way too massive) library to read list for awhile and I'm looking forward to it. So many books, so little time!
I went to all of Caleb Breakey's marketing sessions, and they were good. The biggest takeaway I had was that we should all be ourselves. God made us unique from each other. He put His thumbprint on each one of us. We can admire other authors, but we can't be them. We have to stick to the truth of who we are. If we try to be someone else other than who God made us to be, we'll only be miserable.
Also, I met Nadine Brandes!!! She is so super awesome! I even got a hug. 😊 Yes, I carted all five of her (not exactly small) books to St. Louis and had them signed. I had to! My backpack was a lot lighter once I took them and my signed Frank Peretti books back to the room... Seriously, though, meeting Nadine was one of the big highlights of the whole experience.
|Nadine is so awesome!|
Speaking of meeting authors...
|My sister and me with Dave Wolverton/David Farland!|
This is Dave Wolverton, author of The Courtship of Princess Leia and Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force! I've met a for real Star Wars author! We didn't realize it was him beforehand since he was listed as David Farland, which is the name under which he writes fantasy. But yes, it's the same guy, and yeah, we were totally fangirling over his Star Wars books when we went to meet him. I haven't been able to watch his sessions yet (he was in the room they were having trouble streaming and I've been too busy playing with our new kitten to watch them even if they were available last week, though as of yesterday, they're finally up), but my sister went to them and they sound pretty awesome. He was really cool and my only regret is that I didn't realize ahead of time who he was and order a copy of The Courtship of Princess Leia to have signed.
My favorite sessions were Carla Hoch's. She's hilarious ("No one's getting stabbed sloppy on my watch." "This is a bullet wound. It's all cleaned up and ready for church.") and super informative. She taught three classes on wounds and fighting and they were all really cool...in spite of some graphic wound pictures. 😝 She initially took one self defense class because she needed to write a fight scene, and then she just kept on taking classes on all kinds of different fighting techniques and learning about all kinds of different injuries. She wrote Fight Write to share her knowledge and help other authors with their fight scenes, and I can't wait to dive into it! Also, I had a really productive mentor session with her where she helped me brainstorm some much needed worldbuilding for Acktorek: The Vanished. She's great.
|At my mentor session with Carla Hoch|
Of course I have to talk about the awards banquet. It was so much fun! SOOOOOO many people stopped us for a picture. It was great. I even had a little boy (who was dressed as the Eleventh Doctor) ask me "Are you Obi-Wan?" Certainly made me happy. 😊 And mostly it was fun because it was a thing we did together. I mean, the four of us did a lot of things together (including eating at Fuzzy's probably a few more times than was good for us), but doing a group cosplay is tons of fun. And there were lots of other great costumes as well. My favorites were probably Kate Wetherall, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope, and of course Baby Toothless and Family (Hiccup and Astrid). I mean, how can you really beat a baby dressed as Toothless? It was the most adorable thing. And some really awesome-sounding books won awards! Between my sister and I, we brought several of them home, and I can't wait to dive into them!
|Rex, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka before the banquet|
AKA Tricia, Addy, Me, Jaye
The book festival was fun too. Chocolate covered strawberries and meeting Sara Ella who was also really awesome and hanging out with my friends and chatting with fellow Realmies and just wishing it wasn't all about to end. Then Addy, Jaye, Tricia, and I went out to the fountain to chat about everything from our characters to the Bible, again, trying to forget that it was coming to an end.
|With Sara Ella at the book festival|
The worst part of Realm Makers is saying goodbye. It's a really unique group of people, and there's really nowhere else that's just as (if not more) focused on building your faith as on building your writing craft and author platform. And Jaye and Tricia are some of my very best friends. I'm very glad we text each other all the time, but it's not the same as hanging out in person for days, talking about everything under the sun, learning new things, meeting cool people, and building up and supporting each other. But alas, the time always comes to go home.
|Last picture before going home 😢|
Still, I now know that I am capable of driving halfway across the country, even through cities (though I'm still not sure I'm ready to tackle downtown Atlanta...metro is enough for now). I may not like it, but I can survive. And audiobooks like William Shakespeare's Star Wars and Thrawn: Alliances make the drive much better.
And then last Tuesday we got a kitten! I know it's not really Realm Makers related, but I have to mention him, because he's super cute and 100% the reason I haven't gotten much done this week. He's sleeping on me as I'm writing this, and it's the sweetest thing ever. His name is Pippin after Peregrine Took, his birthday is Star Wars Day, and even though I've never been much of a cat person, I already love him dearly.
|Pippin watching The Clone Wars 😍|