Last weekend was one of the best in my life! I spent it with a bunch of weird, geeky speculative writers at the Realm Makers conference, where wearing an elf headdress is normal and mealtime conversations involve things like dragons, the geography of other planets, and psychoanalyzing people who don’t exist.

I arrived Wednesday evening and unpacked before plopping onto my bed in the empty dorm room. One of my roomies, Laura, came early the next morning, so we headed to breakfast. If you’re ever in Philadelphia, go to First Watch. They have French toast, and not just any old French toast – French toast with Nutella and strawberries.

First up for the conference was the early bird session with Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn of SuzyQ. It was laugh-out-loud funny and informative, and guess what! My business card was drawn for the $500 coaching package! Working with them is going to be so fun.

As the day went by, more Realmies trickled in. I had an inward fangirl moment when Kathy Tyers Gillin and I finally connected again. We met at the Mount Hermon writer’s conference, and I’m honored to call her my friend. Here we are at the awards dinner Friday night:

Kathy and me

Friday passed like a hurricane. I went to electives taught by Kathy, Mike Duran, Patrick Carr, and Thomas Locke, the keynote speaker. I learned a lot and made some lovely friends.

I also pitched my story. It’s weird – I get sick-to-my-stomach nervous like six months before, but by the time I actually was at Realm Makers and waiting for my turn, I wasn’t jittery at all. The words actually came out of my mouth coherently, which is something I’m proud of.

Friday night was also the awards dinner with the option to cosplay. Every dinner should have a costume option. I dressed as Alice from the 2009 Syfy movie, oyster tattoo and everything. This is me with some of my new friends after dinner:

new friends!

L to R: Laurie, Liz, Hannah, Amy, Deanna, and me.

On the way back to the dorms, I geeked out over a building because it looked like a castle. How cool is a castle in the middle of Philly?


And while we’re on the subject of architecture, my ten minute walk from the dorms to the main conference rooms took me under the train tracks into what we called the “zombie tunnel”. Imagine a girl running down it, looking over her shoulder with a terrified expression. Wouldn’t it make a perfect dystopian/post-apocalyptic book cover?

zombie tunnel

Saturday was kinda sad because I knew it was the last day. I attended more electives and took frantic notes. Four books in the bookstore jumped up and down and waved at me, so I caved, forked over the money, and made my suitcase heavier.

After dinner and the closing keynote, Carla Hoch taught a fighting workshop. Then there was a closing prayer and lots of clapping for the incredible people that made Realm Makers possible. It was truly well deserved applause.

And then the Nerf War. It was basically capture the flag in a dorm building with Nerf guns. Team Fury pitted against my Team Doom in three epic battles. We lost the first two, but won sweet victory in the last round! It was the first time I’ve ever had fun playing that game.

The crazies were still going when I headed to my room at 3 a.m. A mere four hours of sleep later, I packed, said my goodbyes, and headed home. I’m having writer-friend withdrawals now.

The only thing that would’ve made Realm Makers better is the presence of my two best writing buddies: Sarah, my mom-dragon-best friend, and Hannah, my fellow sweetheart. But Saturday night I learned that Realm Makers will be in Reno next year!

Which is only a few hours from where I live.

Which means Sarah-Mom and Hannah will be able to go, and we’ll ride and room together.

Which means next year is going to be even more awesome. It makes me grin just thinking about it.

Now I’m gonna face plant into bed and sleep.

2 comments to #RealmMakers2016

  • Becky  says:

    YAY! Great that you won the workshop and had such a fantastic time! Viva la dream!

  • Kris Lindsey  says:

    I’m so glad to hear you had such a great time. The journey continues…

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