September 12, 2013

Summer is Over...

... or at least, very nearly. It's been an amazing summer, I don't mind telling you. Great weather, plenty of rain (the Ozarks are a rainforest right now, compared to this time last year), exciting events - no complaints!
I won't bore you with the details of my entire summer, but I will take a few moments to talk about Realm Makers, which was definitely the highlighting event!
If you didn't hear about it beforehand, Realm Makers was the first-ever writers conference specifically designed for Christian writers of speculative fiction. And it. Was. Awesome. I met some amazing people, had the privilege of shaking the hands of people I'd previously only met online, and had a great time enjoying the company of a whole troop of people just as crazy and creative and nerdy as me!
We were able to get all three of the Lost Scribes together, which is a rare treat these days. Elyn (far right) rode up to St. Louis with me (second from left) and my friend Michaela (second from right), and Heather (far left) came all the way down from Michigan. In this picture we're hanging out at the Friday night costume dinner with Becky Minor, the reason we even had such a thing as a Realm Makers conference. So a huge thank-you to her for an awesome weekend!
You may have noticed in the first picture a bit of a steampunk theme - at least on the part of Michaela, Elyn, and myself. That wasn't entirely intentional, but it ended up being pretty cool. Pictured here is the pile of weaponry and other steampunk accoutrements we brought along. Michaela made the ray gun herself - yeah, she's cool that way. And for the record: you should have seen the looks she got when she waltzed through Steak & Shake on Saturday still wearing the sabre, ray gun, and bowie knives - with Elyn and me tagging along, acting like this is perfectly normal. We laughed about it for most of the trip home.
Oh, the people we met! In this picture with me is none other than Kathy Tyers! I was so excited to meet her Friday night at the costume dinner/awards banquet (yes, I was there when they announced this year's winner of the Parable Award and the Clive Staples Award, which was awesome), but the coolest part was on Saturday, when I walked down to the lobby to find the Kathy Tyers sitting at a table talking to my mother. Seriously - can it get any cooler than that? (Mom was our chauffeur for the weekend, in case you're wondering why she was there. She said she wasn't going to turn us loose in St. Louis, so apparently she either doesn't trust us, was worried we would be so overloaded with excitement that we couldn't find our way home, or suspected we might just choose not to come back.) So Saturday I got to enjoy a long lunch break with my mom, two of my best friends, and one of my favorite authors.
Among other personages with whom I made acquaintance over the weekend were L.B. Graham, author of The Binding of the Blade series; Brian Davis, author of the Dragons of Starlight series (and with whom I sat down and had a lovely chat about my novel The Sword Masters of St. George's Academy); Jeff Gerke, commander-in-chief of Marcher Lord Press; and of course Becky Minor, author of the Windrider Saga.
Best of all, I got to see Grace Bridges, leading lady of Splashdown Books, again - this time officially as "my publisher"! Yep, she made the trek all the way from New Zealand to be at Realm Makers. I also got to meet a lot of the other Splashdown and Avenir Eclectia authors too - Deborah Cullins-Smith, Kat Heckenbach, Travis Perry, and Robbyn Tolbert. I'll admit, I was a little intimidated about meeting Robbyn. She's the one currently working on Song of the Wren-Falcon, helping me get it ready for publication, and for some reason that just really, really freaked me out. But with the help of my friend Heather ("Help" in this instance indicating Heather dragging Robbyn over to me by the hand, shoving me towards her, and saying "Now talk to each other!"), we broke the ice and started getting to know one another.
Let me just say that, having met and talked to Robbyn, I feel totally at peace entrusting her and all the rest of the Splashdown crew with my manuscript. Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't have submitted my novel to Splashdown at all if I was worried they might mess it up - but still, it's my baby, you know?
Now though, I have every confidence in the world that by the time it's done, Song of the Wren-Falcon is going to be absolutely the best novel that it can possibly be. And it's going to be good for me as a writer, as well as for the novel itself. I'm not going to be allowed to get away with any cheap tricks or short cuts (which, I confess, I did use here and there in SotS - yes, I know it's not SotS anymore but that's way simpler an abbreviation than SotW-F).
But more on that in another post. For now, back to Realm Makers.
So, we three Lost Scribes (say - someone should write a song about that!) were milling around at the costume banquet, and all of a sudden who should we spot but a man with a cybernetic left arm?! Naturally, we had to tell him about our character Skylar, and get a picture with him.
Here we are, being epic - because it's Realm Makers and we can do that. ; ) Later, as the three of us were geeking out about the fact that we'd found Skylar, we realized that Ben Wolf (the cyborg gentleman who graced us with his presence in these pictures) doesn't look at all like Skylar in the face... but he does look a lot like our character Hezekiah in the face. And, were Hez a decent human being in any basic capacity, we decided that we could easily imagine his personality being similar to Mr. Wolf's. So we got to met two of the characters from our shared novel, rolled into one master of writing conference ceremonies/magazine editor.
Which brings me to another highlight of the weekend! On Friday, Ben Wolf and Andrew Winch, the executive and senior editors of Splickety Magazine, respectively, gave a talk on what flash fiction is, and how to write it. (Flash fiction is what Splickety Magazine publishes.)
At the end of the talk, they announced a contest: write a story of 500 or fewer words and turn it in to them by noon on Saturday. The winner would get published in the first edition of Havok, a new imprint of Splickety coming in January.
So, instead of sleeping like we should have done Friday night, Elyn, Michaela, and I all stayed up most of the night, woke up abominably early Saturday morning, and spent most of the time during the morning lectures scribbling stories instead of taking notes. We all got them turned in, and settled down to wait eagerly for the announcement of the winner, set to take place at 5:00 pm.
It finally rolled around, and they started announcing the runners-up. Elyn made the finals, with her story Wolf Myth!
I didn't make the finals, but I was just glad that I would be able to say I entered the flash fiction contest at the first-ever Realm Makers conference.
But then they announced the winner... and it was me!!! I literally almost fell over. I had no expectation whatsoever of winning, so hearing my name blindsided me completely. Which turned out to be a problem, since they then asked me to read my story aloud to the entire assembly of conference attendees. Elyn says I read it a little too fast. I imagine that to mean something along the lines of Twitchy from Hoodwinked. But oh well.
So, that means that if you subscribe to Havok, you can expect to see my story, The Mermaid's Pocketwatch, in the inaugural issue!
It was a great way to wrap up an utterly fantastic weekend. I'm so glad I got to enjoy it with so many of my closest friends, authors I've loved for years, my publisher and new colleagues, and new friends made.
Come to think of it, it made a pretty nice finale to the summer. Here's to next time!

If you've actually made it to this point in the post, you're amazing. I know, it was insanely long. I should have done a three-part series or something.
I still don't have internet at home (another one of those ridiculous details about my summer that I won't bore you with), but I've got things arranged so that I should be able to get to wi-fi at least a couple of time a week now. Most of the posts this fall will probably be scheduled as a result, but I'll try to still reply to comments and post at least every week or so.

I hope everyone's summer was wonderful, and I'm looking forward to this fall. God's doing some cool things, and I'm excited to watch them unfold.

How was your summer?


  1. Aww, so lucky to make it! I WILL be there someday

  2. The Mermaid's Pocketwatch is a fantastic little piece of flash. I was just thinking about it the other day. I'm glad we snagged it for Havok! :)

    Oh, and I didn't think you read too fast. ;)

  3. (Sorry for posting on an old entry; only recently stumbled across your blog, but I'm intrigued so I'm just posting wherever I happen to be. :-D )

    L.B. Graham is a cool guy and great writer. You're very fortunate to get to meet with him. I didn't have him as my Worldviews teacher, but my brother did. Having a teacher at high school that's written such a great fantasy series was pretty neat, lol.

    Congrats on your victory! Surprise wins are the best wins. :-D


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