Realm Makers Recap

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.

Back to School Sale

 

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.

~ jenelle

25 Comments

Claire B.

Ahh!! It was so awesome to meet you!

And I totally feel you. I think I left the conference with more questions than answers, but they were questions that needed to be asked and it’s just kind of been a whirlwind of emotions, especially getting back to real life and having something kind of terrible happen last night. It just reminded me that I should put all my trust in God, and that no matter what, He’ll prevail and I just need to trust.

I need to try and write my own recap! But I’m still having so much fun looking at all the pictures being posted and whatnot to go and do it. :P

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jenelle

It was awesome meeting you, as well!

I understand that feeling of having more questions than answers. I do feel like as I’ve been home, I have been able to see that I got more answers than I thought I did at first glance, but it was a whirlwind. I’m so sorry something terrible happened! Will be praying for you, friend.

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Allan James

Beautiful Post………from a Beautiful Girl……….(who definitely passes for a mid-twenty something)…..with a Beautiful Heart………..who knows how to be vulnerable……and share that beauty……..with her readers. I LOVE reading your “Highlights” and tears come to my heart (and eyes) when I read your disappointments. I would spare you any and all of those if I could………but experience has so often shown me……that disappointment and heartbreak lead to Beauty……….not the simple beauty that you and I can create……..but the profound Beauty that only God can unveil! By the way…..I am ready for Book No. 5 of The Minstrel’s Song…….actually I am ready for Books 6 through 10 as well…………….just let me know when I can get my copies!

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jenelle

Awww, thanks :)

Um… well… books 5 through 10 um… we shall see. :) I think there may be more stories in the world of Tellurae Aquaous… not sure what they’ll look like… but perhaps.

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jenelle

Out of curiosity, why book 6? Why not book 5? :-D :-D

I may need a refresher on what that premise was you gave me… because other than the shipping part, I am blanking at the moment. :)

Your ship for Kitry is actually one I had never considered… probably because the match you have in mind for her… ahem… didn’t make it in the rough draft…! His survival got added in the second-to-final pass of edits. But I like it!

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DJ Edwardson

Thank you, Jenelle, for being so vulnerable and honest in this post. It felt like a virtual pass to the conference. It sounds like you did more in a few days than most people would do in 6 months. I’m especially thrilled for you that the rep from Tyndale liked your writing and recommended you talk to TOR. Good to “have you back”, though. I’ve certainly missed your posts!

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jenelle

Thanks, DJ! That was kind of a thrilling moment. I never did get a chance to talk to the rep from TOR, but it was awesome knowing that someone in the business thought my work was good enough for that level.

It’s good to be back. Blogging is one of my favorite things. Taking time off is good… but I missed it.

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Tracey Dyck

Oh Jenelle, I absolutely LOVED meeting you face to face and wish we could’ve spent more time together! Thank you for being honest about the highs and lows. Yours is one of many stories I’ve been hearing about the enemy conspiring to keep Realmies at home, or to steal the joy and knowledge they may have found at the conference. You’re not alone. *hugs*

That’s wonderful the Tyndale person liked your writing! Hey, if you ever decide you want to go traditional (which may never be, since you’re happy with the indie road, as you say), you could always send an unsolicited query to someone at Tor and be able to drop the “so-and-so recommended you to me” card. *shrugs* Either way, it is SO nice to get professional validation!

The whole time I was reading this post, I was thinking that a wonderful byproduct of you deciding to attend Allen’s 3rd session is that you were there with exactly the encouragement and prayer I needed. I can’t thank you enough. <3

Also thanks for the pizza. ;D And tell Derek I said hi!

I sincerely hope to see you there again next year!!!

P.S. In the busyness of it all—and with you needing to leave early and me not acting fast enough—I missed my chance to buy King’s Warrior and get it signed. Is there a place I can order directly from you? I don’t care if it’s discounted or not. :)

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jenelle

I loved meeting you, as well, Tracey!!! The weekend was just far too short.

You are welcome for the pizza, Derek says, “hi back” and I’m so glad I was able to be there with you at that moment at the end of Allen’s class.

I don’t have a store-front here for purchasing books directly… probably something I should look into at some point… but I might have a copy of King’s Warrior in the storage unit still. Let me check, because I know I was running pretty low on a couple of titles. I might need to order some more…

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Tracey Dyck

I know, I kind of wish it was twice as long! ^_^

<333

I mean, I have no problem ordering on Amazon if that's easiest for you! I like to ask authors if they benefit more from direct sales or not (because if they do, that's how I prefer to order.) ;) Let me know what works best!

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Christine

Awwww, Jenelle! This is such a beautiful RM recap post. You’re so, so right that we have an enemy, but our God is SO much bigger. I had a lot going against me as well, mainly health problems. It was really hard to get there and keep up with all the activity, but God got me through every single moment of it, and I can’t stop thanking Him. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I learned SO much. Not just about writing, but about my purpose and the direction God is leading me. It was a beautiful learning experience.

AND MEETING YOU WAS THE BEST!!! I didn’t realize you had to leave early until you were already gone, and missed saying goodbye. *sobs* I also didn’t get an individual pic with you, and I can just kick myself. But still. What matters is that I DID get to meet you. It was a dream come true. All of it.

I’m thrilled to hear a Tyndale editor loved your story! I’m so proud of you!

I’m just so happy you got to go and everything fell into place in the end. We have an amazing God!

Missing you already! I do so hope we all go the same year again. It was absolutely magical being with all my dear writing buddies! <3

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jenelle

Sorry to hear you were having some health problems :( I’m glad that God got you through it and you were able to be there, it was SO nice to meet you! I totally understand the picture thing… I practically forgot my phone had a camera on it I got so few pictures!!! It’s a problem. LOL

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Brie Donning

“All bunkbeds come with siege weaponry.” I’d been wondering who said that.

Thank you for this post. I’ve been considering attending Realm Maker’s but i keep get these whispers that spending all that money and braving a trans-Pacific flight (and worries of parents) just to attend a few days conference is not worth it. Or at least not worth it yet. I already know Ream Makers is awesome, but you just drove home what I could get out of it. (Besides meeting and hugging all the people.)

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jenelle

You are welcome! It is a lot of money and effort, and it was a very emotional weekend for me, but it was also good. There were many lessons learned, and it was amazing to get some experience in various aspects of the writing/publishing world that I couldn’t really get anywhere else. I love that this is not a convention, it’s a conference. It is extremely well-organized and the people who put it together really did a great job of cramming in tons of learning!

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Madeline J. Rose

AGH It was so nice meeting you face-to-face Jenelle!! I wish we could’ve talked more! ^_^ I myself was kind of feeling a bit more quiet and reclusive that weekend, so you shouldn’t feel bad about not meeting many new people. <333

That is soooo epic being validated by a professional! It just makes you feel lit up inside. ^_^ One of my regrets about the conference was not scheduling an appointment with an agent or editor. I would really like to get an appointment with someone next year!

Say hello to Derek and tell him I enjoyed our little conversation about world-building! :D

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jenelle

Nothing like a huge conference full of people to make an introvert feel even more introverted… amiright?

I will tell Derek you said hi! He always enjoys chatting world-building. He said that next time we go he kind of wants to have some sort of table set up where authors can come chat about problems they’re having with world-building or plot. :-D So maybe we’ll have a table and go as vendor/story doctor or something. :)

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Nancy Walker

That’s a great idea — going vendor/story doctor route!
If you start planning really early, maybe I could come take care of the kids for you while you’re gone. . . (Do you know where next year’s conference will be?)

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jenelle

Next year’s conference is going to be at the same place and basically the same dates. However, as it is also our 15th wedding anniversary, I’m not sure if we’re planning on trying to get to RM again in 2019… we kind of want to do an anniversary trip to Chicago… catch a Cubs game… eat amazing pizza… :) and that might preclude going to Realm Makers again until 2020… and they haven’t announced that location yet. :)

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Abbey Stellingwerff

I loved hearing about your Realm Makers experience. I’m sorry that some things went wrong, but it sounds like the good things were really great! I think it is so cool about the agent from Tyndale! That’s a huge encouragement! God is awesome, and it’s a great reminder that he is in control and he is our ultimate purpose here on earth.

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laurielucking

It was so wonderful to meet you, Jenelle! (I was sending a virtual hug while I read this post!) I took a lot of encouragement out of the conference, too, it was a needed reminder that how I interact with others in my life is just as important as the time I spend writing at my desk. And the people there (you included!) were just amazing! I’m so sorry there were struggles as well and that me keeping you up late chatting on Friday probably didn’t help with your headache :( But I hope we’re able to connect again sometime, either at Realm Makers or when I’m driving through Wisconsin!

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jenelle

It was so fun meeting you, as well! The people at RM were quite amazing and I learned so many good things and got so many great reminders. Loved chatting with you on Friday night! Let me know if you’re ever driving near Eau Claire and have extra time!!!

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I love hearing from you, dear Reader!