Fantasy Friday: The Realm Makers Conference


RealmMakerslogo

Today the second annual Realm Makers Conference got underway, a symposium specifically for people of faith who are interested in speculative fiction. I wish I were there. Starting with the talented author Tosca Lee as the Keynote Speaker, the lineup of presenters is impressive and the courses they’re offering, intriguing.

Here’s a look at the schedule:

Thursday, May 29
3:00 pm-On Campus housing check in available
8:30 pm-10:30 pm – (Early Bird Event) Flash Critique Party sponsored by Splickety Magazine

Friday, May 30
Breakfast
8:00 am – Conference Check-In
9:00 am – Opening Keynote with Tosca Lee
10:00 am-12:00 noon – Class Sessions
12:00 noon-1:30 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm-5:00 pm – Class sessions
7:00 pm-9:30 pm – Awards Dinner

Saturday, May 31
Breakfast
9:00 am-12:00 noon – Class Sessions
12:00 noon to 1:30 – Lunch
1:30 pm-4:00 pm – Class Sessions
4:00 pm – Closing Keynote with Tosca Lee
5:30 pm – Dinner
7:00 pm-9:00 pm – Multi-Author Book Signing Featuring Tosca Lee (open to the public)

2014CSA_Small copyDid I mention that at the awards dinner, Realm Maker founder Becky Minor will present the winner of the 2014 Clive Staples Award. Should be very cool.

Wish I could be there. *Or did I already say that? 😉

Here is the information about the presenters:

Tosca Lee
Keynote speaker

Tosca is NY Times Bestselling author of Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve; Iscariot; and The Book of Mortals series with NY Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She’s best known for her exploration of maligned characters.

Steve Laube

Mr. Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency as well as the new owner of Marcher Lord Press, is a 33 year veteran of the bookselling industry. After running an award-winning bookstore in Phoenix, he spent 11 years with Bethany House Publishers, rising to the position of editorial director. in 2002, he was named the AWSA Golden Scroll Editor of the Year. The next year he become a literary agent and formed The Steve Laube Agency. In 2009, he was named the ACFW Agent of the Year.

Steve is a long-time advocate of Christian Speculative Fiction. He’ll be teaching two sessions as well as taking manuscript pitches at the conference. I hope you are as excited as we are to have him lend his amazing expertise to our attendees.

LB Graham

Mr. Graham joins us for a second year at Realm Makers, offering an encore presentation of his powerful class on Worldview in Speculative Fiction as well as a second course the characters we love to hate: Villians. LB will unravel the mystery of when it’s actually OK to have a two-dimensional villain vs. when they need to be more fully-realized, explain why we (and our heroes) need bad guys, and discuss why evil is attractive, even though that attractiveness is a lie. He’ll also delve into how to keep our portrayals of evil age-appropriate and how to avoid glorifying evil while admitting it’s sometimes fun to write.

LB has published eight novels with a ninth on the way, and had eighteen years of teaching experience. According to Realm Makers:2013 attendees, LB “owns the classroom,” and you will be challenged and encouraged by the content he presents.

Torry Martin

Mr. Martin teaches at conferences across the country, and his personality and presentations are both hilarious and packed with take-away. He’ll be presenting content on the ins and outs of networking, including a spiritual perspective on effective network-building. Torry’s second class will offer attendees wisdom, drawn from Torry’s own career, on how to swim with industry sharks without becoming one yourself. Too valuable to miss for writers at any stage of their career!

Jeff Gerke

Mr. Gerke served as our keynote speaker for Realm Makers: 2013, and we’re excited to have him back in attendance, this year in his preferred role as session teacher. Jeff will be presenting content on the craft of fiction writing, though his exact presentation content is still coming into focus. For anyone who’s ever sat in one of Jeff’s classes, you know he teaches at warp speed, and his takeaway is at once challenging and brimming with encouragement. Jeff has written novels under the pen name Jefferson Scott, worked all over the publishing industry in an editorial capacity, edits on a freelance basis, and has written multiple books on the craft of writing. He is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, and continues to advocate for, teach, and build up Christian writers of speculative fiction with his constant contributions to the geek community.

Jeff’s classes:

Class 1: The So-Called Rules of So-Called Fiction and What to So-Called Do with Them–Jeff’s newest book for Writer’s Digest covers the conflicting “rules” of fiction put out by teachers of craft, rules that can leave writers feeling paralyzed and frustrated. Come hear his solution.

Class 2: The One Rule: Engaging Your Reader–Jeff debunks the so-called rules of fiction and swaps them all out for One Rule to Ring The All (er, or something.) Come here Jeff explain what the one rule is, and how to make it happen.

Kat Heckenbach

Ms. Heckenbach participated as a loved panelist at Realm Makers: 2013, and is back this year to teach one solo session and to team-teach another. Her solo session, “Writing in YA mode” will explore how writing for young adults is not the same as simplifying fiction for adults. The major point of the session will emphasize that meeting teens where they are does not mean dumbing down a stories language or content. She’ll also explain the difference between writing “teen fiction” and writing adult fiction that is safe for teens. Kat Heckenbach is the author of Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen, YA fantasy that incorporates satisfying scientific principles. She has published countless short works as well, in anthologies ranging anywhere from Chicken Soup for the Soul to horror. Attendees will benefit from Kat’s dry wit and extraordinary literary range.

Andrew Winch

Mr. Winch joins us once again to offer an encore presentation of his 2013 class on writing flash fiction that sells, a class that will offer attendees the opportunity to enter into a Splickety Magazine-sponsored flash fiction contest. He will also be team-teaching with Kat Heckenbach a session that explores ways to connect scientific reality with fantasy to build believable and consistent story worlds. This team session promises to offer an excellent toolkit to either get you started or bolster any writer in their world building. Andrew is the senior editor of Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, and Havok. His training as a physical therapist gives him expert knowledge in the science of the human body, and he finds no shortage of ways to utilize that knowledge in his own writing endeavors.

Randy Streu

Mr. Streu, a member of the very popular horror panel at Realm Makers: 2013, joins us once again, this time to teach a full, solo session on “the Ins and Outs of Christian Horror.” The class will feature an examination and critique of modern secular and “sacred” horror in literature and film against classic horror. We will explore the question of what makes horror, horror, while critiquing modern expectations of the genre, such as sex and gore. Finally, the class will look at Christian horror from a publishing perspective, specifically writing well within the genre without breaking trust with Christian readers–or with God. Randy is the administrator and lead writer for A Flame in the Dark, the premier Christian horror blog on the web. He’s also is the co-founder, director, and developmental editor for Diminished Media Group.

Travis Perry

Mr. Perry joined us in 2013 as a contributor to the discussion of Splashdown Books’s Avenir Eclectia, and this year will draw upon his experience as an Army Reserve Officer to teach about the real toll of mortal danger in fiction. Travis deployed five times into combat zones, once as a medical specialist and served over ten years as a combat medic. His real-world experience with warfare and his established body of work in speculative fiction make him an ideal candidate to keep the rest of us straight when we write about the physiology or psychology of wounding and danger.

Kristen Stieffel

Ms. Stieffel is also a returning presenter at Realm Makers:2013. This year, she’ll explore how the work of Mark Okrand and JRR Tolkien can help us give distinct languages to the people groups in our storyworlds. She’ll unpack how studying real languages other than English can provide inspiration for our fiction. Kristen is a writer and writing coach, helping writers polish and non-writers write. Kristen is a member of Christian Editor Network and the Editorial Freelancers Association. Her fantasy novel Alara’s Call is under contract with OakTara, along with three additional books in the Prophet’s Chronicle series.

Gary Kwapisz

Mr. Kwapisz joins us as a new faculty member in 2014 to discuss the detailed process of taking a graphic novel from idea to print. His session will cover the current realities of the marketplace and the differences writers and artists encounter if they traditionally publish vs. taking the self-publishing route. Gary has a passion to encourage Christians to re-engage the popular culture and help infuse the general market with values-based content. Gary offers a wealth of industry experience, having worked as a professional artist for virtually every publisher in the comics industry, from 1980 to the mid 90’s. (Just Google him—you’ll be amazed.) He’s drawn characters as diverse as Conan, Batman and Harvey Pekar. Even if you don’t necessarily intend to delve into the world of graphic novels, Gary’s breadth of skills and depth of experience will offer Realm Makers attendees encouragement, wisdom, and a dose of reality not to be missed.

Avily Jerome

Ms. Jerome joined us in 2013, primarily as a “Splicketeer,” but has much to offer in her own right. This year, she will present content of supernatural elements in real-world settings. As an author of books that incorporate fantasy and supernatural elements into a real world setting and as the editor of Havok, a speculative fiction magazine, Avily’s perspective is unique and will be beneficial to writers who are also interested in this type of world.

Lisa Walker England

Ms England is an author of far-flung steampunk and fantasy adventures as well as a branding expert, and we are thrilled to have her joining us at this year’s Realm Makers conference. Lisa will bring her expertise gleaned from writing anything from serial fiction to sequential stories (think graphic novels and films) and share them with us in her session, which will explore the ins and outs of the steampunk genre.

So it’s too late for this year, but why not make plans to attend Realm Makers next year? I’m hoping I can!

Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday: The Realm Makers Conference  
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Fantasy Friday – News


Much to report. First, Marcher Lord Press, the new POD publishing enterprise undertaken by Jeff Gerke, has released three new books.

Mirtika Schultz posted about them on her blog yesterday. Brandilyn Collins posted about one of the books on Wednesday—Stuart Stockton‘s Starfire (more sci fi than fantasy), this being the book she used in her Kanner Lake series. How fun for the fans of those books to learn that Starfire is now actually available.

For those of you who don’t regularly stop over at Speculative Faith, the team blog discussing speculative fiction, you may have missed my advance review of one of these MLP releases—Jill Williamson’s By Darkness Hid. As a matter of fact, Jill has become a guest blogger slotted, for the time being, to post on Wednesday’s. You can read Jill’s introduction, story of finding speculative fiction, and thoughts on vampires in her initial posts.

In addition, Jill has an article out in the latest Issue of CFBA’s Christian Fiction Magazine Online – “Quest’s, Spells, and Vampires: What’s so cool about fantasy?” Besides pointing out why teens like fantasy, Jill gives a nice list of some of the newer titles by Christians (though some of these might better fit in the Middle Grade category).

And in case you missed it, the Christy Award nominations are out. Several bloggers (Nicole, for example, and Sally Stuart) have posted the complete list. I discussed the books in the speculative genre in a recent Spec Faith post.

Something I neglected to mention here. At Novel Journey, Mike Duran has posted Part Two of a panel discussion on Christian speculative fiction. And yes, I’m one of the panelists. So is Jeff Gerke and Lost Genre Guild founder, Frank Creed. Part I appeared a number of weeks ago.

No new information from D. Barkley Briggs. As you may recall, he announced on his Facebook page that NavPress decided, a month from release date, not to publish the second book in the Karac Tor series. The first in his YA fantasy, The Book of Names, was a CSFF blog tour feature back in January. In a tour that doesn’t shy away from tough criticism, the participants gave this book high marks, so it’s especially sad news. Many of us were looking forward to the second installment of an obviously continuing story by an obviously skilled writer.

And for fans of Karen Hancock, Enclave, her newest book is due to release this July. Evidently it’s closer to science fiction than fantasy, but the publisher’s description suggests a combination similar to her first book, Arena.

On a different topic, the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference is just now getting under way. It seems a little odd to me that I am here and they are there … 😦

You See It Here, You See It There—Christian Fantasy Everywhere


With all the attention on the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour, I don’t want to neglect the other ground breaking fantasy event that took place last week. Marcher Lord Press released its first books.

In one forum, I learned that there was a midnight lineup of fans trying to be the first to order. It turns out that over a hundred people had the same idea. I wonder if there’s ever been an online rush to buy books before.

Without a doubt, MLP has focused the spotlight roundly on fantasy and other speculative genres written from a Christian worldview. One bit of evidence is the fact that oft-declared non-fantasy reader Nicole Petrino-Salter conducted an interview with MLP founder, Jeff Gerke, which she posted last Tuesday.

Earlier this year Jeff taught on speculative fiction at the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference. Here’s a man who has seized an opportunity. Not only does he recognize the ongoing popularity of speculative fiction, he’s paying attention to the development of new technology. The Marcher Lord Press model of publishing just might revolutionize the industry.

But promoting the genre with feet on the ground are our heroic eight authors—Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers. Their tour is quickly coming to an end, and I can’t wait to hear in person their stories of the many encounters with fans, new and old.

Report after report mentions the fun, the crowds, the enthusiasm. The video journal has clips of happy readers walking out with stacks of books. One comment begged the writers to tour the heartland next. Others suggested the entire US. 😀 Personally, I’d like to see them return to the West Coast and stay right here in SoCal. I know of a dozen places that would love to have them.

Regardless, there are two days remaining, and you can enjoy the events live or by rerun simply by clicking over to the Motiv8 Web site.

By the way, did you discover who the mystery guests were at the beginning of the tour? Authors of the brand new, very eye-catching middle grade fantasies—the Hunter Brown series—brothers, Christopher and Allan Miller.

Who knows? The fantasy tour might grow by half next year and there will be a group of twelve. Sounds very biblical! 😉

CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press, Day 3


Not long ago, one of my neighbors requested a list of Christian fantasies I could recommend for teens. Just yesterday he commented that when he had mentioned some titles to the interested teen, she replied that she’d read all those.

Whenever I hear such scenarios, I shake my head and wonder why publishers don’t understand that readers can manage more than one book every year. And that the answer is NOT to require popular authors to write three a year. Even if the quality were good, and that is debatable, readers still want more. Consequently, for a publisher to decide not to pick up other authors who write similar works seems odd to me.

In a little over a week, eight Christian fantasy authors will embark on a tour of the West Coast. And the surprising thing is, all of them come from different publishing houses. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy that there are eight publishing houses (there are actually more) that have produced Christian fantasy. But what if each house had three or four authors instead of one? There are exceptions, of course, notably WaterBrook.

But here’s the point. Marcher Lord Press, besides being innovative in its approach to producing the books, is also innovative in its selection of content. Here’s the entire description:

Whether it’s fantasy you love, or science fiction, time travel, chillers, supernatural thrillers, alternate history, spiritual warfare, superhero, vampire, or technothriller—if it’s speculative and it comes from the Christian worldview, Marcher Lord Press is your publisher.

No romance, no literary fiction, no historical or contemporary. The books MLP will publish have a peculiar distinction because they embrace what many other Christian publishers seem only to tolerate.

Perhaps, then, voracious Christian speculative readers will at long last have the kind of selection that romance readers have enjoyed for the past three decades. Perhaps MLP’s success will foster an increase in similar titles from all the publishers. Perhaps there will actually be a resurgence in competition when it comes to books.

Well, an author can dream, can’t she? 😉

Of course, we’ll never know unless MLP succeeds. The only way that will happen is if people buy their books. There are three launching in October—Hero, Second Class by first-time novelist Mitchell Bonds, The Personifid Invasion by R. E. Bartlett, and Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy by Theodore Beale. You can find a sample of each book at the MLP Web site. Just click on the book title link.

OK, time to tour. Check out what others in CSFF are saying about Marcher Lord Press.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard (not on the original list)
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks (not on the original list)
Shannon McNear
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 9:29 am  Comments (12)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press, Day 2


Before I discuss Marcher Lord Press, I’m happy to announce the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award winners:

Speculative
First Place: The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck (NavPress, Reagan Reed)
Second Place: Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
Third Place: DragonFire by Donita Paul

Sharon is also a CSFF member and of course the CSFF tour has featured two of Donita’s books since our inception. Add to that the fact that I thought Demon: A Memoir was one of the best books I’ve read, and you can see, this was a great group. Congratulations to each of them.

And now, on to Marcher Lord Press. I thought it only logical to spell out what I like about Jeff Gerke‘s innovative publishing venture.

First, although MLP is a print-on-demand publisher, it is not a subsidy press, meaning that the writer is not paying to have his work printed. Why is that important? Maybe not so much. Like everything else in the writing business, “vanity” publishers are not all about vanity any more. In reality, they are simply another model, an option some writers choose, with the money at risk their own instead of the publishers’.

So why do I mention that I consider it a plus that MLP is going a different direction? For one thing, I think there are a number of good, established self-publishing organizations, and I’m not sure another one is needed. Secondly, despite the strides being made in self-publishing, some authors continue to be resistant to the “restrictions” of editing. Consequently, a higher number of self-published books than of traditionally-published books are poor quality. MLP books will dodge that stigma.

Add in one more fact. With a traditional publisher, a reader has at least one other person—the acquisitions editor—besides the author (and really a host of other people within the publishing house) to rely on when determining if they want to buy the book. After all, someone else had to believe in it enough to print it. So too with MLP. Authors must go through the same process of submitting work and meeting the MLP standards in order to be published. Especially since Jeff Gerke is an experienced editor, this acceptance/rejection process sets a higher bar.

There are other factors, but I’ll save those for tomorrow. Please take some time to see what others on the tour are saying about Marcher Lord Press.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard (not on the original list)
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks (not on the original list)
Shannon McNear
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm  Comments Off on CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press, Day 2  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Marcher Lord Press


First, I want to announce the winners of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest in the speculative division:

In the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory category, the finalists are:
1st: Chawna Schroeder, Metamorphosis
2nd: Lynda K. Arndt, The Song of Blood and Stone
3rd: Valerie Comer, The Girl Who Cried Squid

Congratulations to these writers. Some of you may realize that Chawna and Valerie are both CSFF Blog Tour members, so it’s especially gratifying to see that they’ve received recognition for their own writing.

This month CSFF is NOT featuring a book. Instead we are highlighting a new publishing venture. Some of you may remember that a little over a year and a half ago, Jeff Gerke announced his plans to begin a new kind of publishing company, Marcher Lord Press. My initial reaction wasn’t particularly favorable because MLP is a print-on-demand publisher.

In part because of the discussion about POD that came about among CSFF members, I’ve changed my views. Another factor in my new position is a result of my awareness of the realities of the writing business. From agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog post last Thursday:

I think there are way, way more people writing books than the market can ever support. At least this is true within traditional royalty-paying publishing.

I began to understand this as I joined groups like The Lost Genre Guild and ChristSF. Lots and lots of writers. Very few spots for speculative titles released by traditional publishers serving the Christian market.

Another reality, quite frankly, is that the entire publishing industry is undergoing fundamental changes because of technology. With the development of Amazon’s Kindle and other such readers, I suspect books will, in a generation or sooner, be sold primarily via cyberspace.

Which brings us back to Marcher Lord Press. Here is a new, cutting edge, publisher devoted exclusively to speculative fiction written from a Christian worldview. As Jeff states in the introduction to MLP, “If it’s speculative and it comes from the Christian worldview, Marcher Lord Press is your publisher.”

Without a doubt, I see this new venture as filling a need, and I’m happy CSFF has the opportunity of letting others know about it.

Read what other bloggers on the tour are saying about MLP.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks (not on the original list)
Shannon McNear
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Fantasy Friday – Tidbits


Lo and behold, the latter part of this week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance featured Donita Paul and DragonLight. How cool is that! Back-to-back tours. Now that’s the way to keep the buzz going.

My name isn’t listed at the CFBA blog as one participating on the tour because I didn’t order a book through them. Nevertheless I want to mention Donita and her work again—partly because she is one of the pioneers in the Christian fantasy resurgence, partly because I enjoy her writing, partly because I think she has a wonderful Web site with lots to explore, including some games to play and art to enjoy, and partly because she has a new blog.

Then there’s the upcoming Motiv8 Fantasy Tour coming to the West Coast in a few short months when I’ll actually get to meet Donita and several others I’ve only had the pleasure of corresponding with on line.

Lastly, there is the t-shirt I just received—a very cool blue on gray that says, “Look wise, say nothing, and eat only those who annoy you.” 😉 In small print below it says, “I read DragonKeeper Chronicles,” which I do. 😀

Turning the corner to another piece of fantasy news some of you may be interested in, Michael Warden, author of Gideon’s Dawn, a … substantial first volume of the Pearlsong Refounding series, has self-published the second book, Waymaker.

The first volume was an echo of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant trilogy. Since I credit those novels with providing me the impetus to write fantasy, I have followed Warden somewhat, and am pleased that he’s making an effort to finish what he started.

No doubt about it, epic fantasy is a challenge. Happily, it appears he has every intention of seeing the story through to the end. Good for him. Good for Christian fantasy.

Then the third piece of news. Jeff Gerke of WhereTheMapEnds.com posted an interview with me which you can read here. He also posted one of my short stories, a piece entitled “Swallow and Beyond” which I wrote for a Writer’s Digest contest. I hope you take a moment or two to stop by either pages some time this weekend.

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