It is a difficult thing, trying to summarize a week like the one I just had. I could do a play-by-play, but I feel like that would just come across a bit dry and boring. I could try to talk about all the things that were said that I found useful or helpful in all the sessions I attended, but then you’d be stuck here for rather a long time, as I have pages and pages of notes. So I’m just going to try to tell you about the number one takeaway I came home from Realm Makers with…
We have an enemy.
As a lover of fantasy fiction, I am well-acquainted with villains, especially the dark, insidious, bent-on-world-conquest type. And it is just such an enemy that we have. As Christian authors, the last thing our enemy wants is for us to go to a conference and encourage one another… or worse, send our message of hope to the world.
All weekend long, he whispered in my ear about all the things that were going wrong or the reasons why I shouldn’t be at Realm Makers:
I felt guilty asking someone to watch all four of my children for an entire weekend.
Three of my four children had colds when I left, and Brant’s cough seemed to be developing into one of his nasty croupy episodes.
The bookmarks I had sent to put in the welcome bags were in the same box as my books and so did not get seen or distributed.
The first thing I did was pitch to a publisher and it was absolutely horrendous.
I’m shy, and so I did not meet as many new people as I had perhaps been expecting to.
I developed a headache around 2pm on Friday and no amounts of acetaminophen or caffeine could touch it. In fact, it did not go away until we were halfway home on Saturday afternoon.
We had to leave early and missed out on the book fair and nerf war.
I woke up to an email from the head of RM on Sunday morning asking me to come pick up my books that had not sold in the consignment store at the book fair the previous night…. of course, I could not do this since we had left early and were a 5 hour drive from the conference…
All of these whispers and disappointments conspired within my heart, roiling into a cacophonous accusation that going to Realm Makers had been nothing but a colossal waste of time, effort, and money. That it hadn’t been worth it. That my books weren’t worth it. That I wasn’t worth it.
But that isn’t true. Because the majority of the weekend was incredible. So let’s talk about just a few of those highlights, shall we?
Highlight: Getting the experience of pitching my book to a publisher, and despite making a hash of it, seeing her light up as she got a better feel for what the story was about and skimming my first ten pages.
Highlight: Winning a t-shirt from Will Wight for asking a fabulous question (which was: “How do you find your target audience?” for those curious)
Highlight: Attending Will Wight’s continuing session on self-publishing and learning a TON about how to proceed, and getting confirmation that my future plans are reasonable and valid ideas.
Highlight: A publisher at Tyndale loving my first 10 pages, and while both of us acknowledge that my book is not right for Tyndale, she told me that my writing is solid and recommended I talk to the agent from TOR.
Highlight: Going to the awards banquet and having a friend come dressed as my very own Kamarie!
Highlight: Getting to chat with Allen Arnold about our mutual love of Stephen R. Lawhead’s books!
Highlight: Meeting a fellow Timothy Zahn fan and having a fun conversation about his books and Star Wars books.
Highlight: Meeting all my online friends in real life and getting to put faces with names and have actual conversations with them! Also, getting a picture with over half of my SilmAwards blogger friends!!! This was by far one of the biggest highlights of the weekend… meeting all of YOU who were there. Deborah, Madeline, Tracey, Claire, Kyle, Savannah Grace, Kendra, Laurie, Heidi and everyone else whose names and faces are escaping me at the moment (seriously… SO MANY PEOPLE)… you all made Realm Makers so much fun. Thank you for being “my people” and for making sure I didn’t just sit in a corner all weekend being shy. LOL
Highlight: Getting to chat with Kathy Tyers (author of the Star Wars book Truce at Bakura) and purchasing a book of hers and her signing it for me!
Highlight: Being told that I couldn’t possibly be old enough to have four children, and then having someone guess that I was in my mid-twenties.
Highlight: Two different people bringing my books up to me and asking me to sign them.
Highlight: Hearing Carla Hoch say, “All bunkbeds come with siege weaponry.”
Highlight: Learning from Nadine Brandes how to write a pitch and how to deliver it with confidence.
Highlight: The number of people who told Derek how cool it was that he helps me world-build for my stories.
Highlight: Writing a very short opener to a prompt in Wayne Thomas Batson’s class on suspense, having it rated as a 10, and reading it out loud to the entire class. Definitely one of my favorite memories from the weekend.
Highlight: Attending Allen Arnold’s third session on Faith and Creativity (I was a little burned out on the marketing strategy/tips/to do lists from the Self Publishing course, so we skipped the last one and went to Allen’s third class instead) and getting a mini-sermon tailored to authors that just poured beautiful refreshment into my soul.
Highlight: Going to the conference with my best friend and husband… and seeing him get excited about the future and my writing even more than he already was.
So what was that number one takeaway?
That my writing is worth it. That I am worth it. That this conference was worth it… and we hope to be able to attend again. But beyond that, I was reminded that I am not on this journey alone. My writing has always been a partnership, not just with my incredibly supportive family for whom I am eternally grateful, but with my Creator: the One who has given me a passion for stories and storytelling and the ability to do so.
I was reminded that it’s not about money or sales numbers, and it never has been. I have stories to share, and all the best marketing strategies in the world don’t matter if I’m not keeping my focus on the Great Author.
I got confirmation that I am happy as a self-published author. It may be a bit more “slow and steady wins the race” sort of pace, but I wouldn’t trade it. God has given me the ability to not need to make a living off my writing, and He’s also given me four small hobbits to raise, and they come first.
On Sunday morning at church, the pastor was talking about faith. The title of the sermon was “Faith Wins.” And he started off by asking, “Who of you out there could really use a WIN this morning?” (Note, this wasn’t a prosperity gospel sermon… it was about trusting in a God who is bigger than our issues and failures) but that question absolutely wrecked me. All the whispers and disappointments flooded over me and I could not stop the tears. I sat there with my hands over my eyes, trying to push the tears back where they came from… as any good introvert knows, crying in public with no access to a tissue of any kind is like a worst nightmare come true. Note to self, crying into one’s hands does not prevent the tears from falling, they drip down your arms instead… might need to remember that for a book scene someday.
And so, in the midst of it all, it was like God bent down, took my hand, pulled me into his lap, and reminded me of who He is. I was reminded that I serve an Extravagant God. He’s the One who parted the Red Sea, turned water into wine, fed 5,000, walked on water, and defeated the grave itself. And because of that, I’m stepping out in faith a little bit with my first series.
Now this is where all this learning that I did pays off for YOU! If you’ve been wanting to read the Minstrel’s Song, but haven’t been able to due to financial struggles… then this Back to School Sale might interest you.
For the foreseeable future (at least through the end of September) ALL FOUR of my books are available in the Kindle store for just 99 cents!
But that’s not all… because I know a lot of you out there are like me in that you prefer paperbacks… so I have set the paperback prices for each of these books as LOW AS POSSIBLE. I was trying to set it so that I would make one penny on each sale, but Createspace isn’t playing nice and that number apparently doesn’t exist in their algorithm. So the lowest I can go and still make money on each paperback is:
King’s Warrior – $9.99
Second Son – $10.99
Yorien’s Hand – $9.49
Minstrel’s Call – $12.99
Hopefully that helps make these stories a bit more accessible to you, dear Reader.
You can easily find all my books and their sparkly back-to-school prices in the amazon store under my Amazon Author Page.
If you went to Realm Makers, I’d love to hear what your big takeaway was! If you didn’t, feel free to ask me questions… I know this post was kind of a very outline-y sort of overview, and I am more than willing to go into some of the things I learned in the sessions in more depth! I hope you are all having a lovely summer! Please make sure to pop back in on Friday, because I’ve got a character interview going up that I was supposed to put up BEFORE I left for RM… ooops.
Also, yes.. I am aware that my ONE TAKEAWAY was actually like twelve takeaways… because that’s just how I roll.