Archive for the ‘Writing Conferences’ Category


How to Prepare For Realm Makers (Or Any Writing Conference)

May 31, 2018

Realm Makers is less than 50 days away, peeps.


(That GIF expresses both sides of my brain here. On the one hand, ALL THE EXCITE! And on the other….oh, I have so much to do before I go!!)

This will be my third year going to Realm Makers, and since it’s on my mind today, I thought I’d write up some advice and thoughts for those attending for the first time – or going to their first conference anywhere – or going any time, no matter how many conferences you’ve been to!

A lot of people have written advice posts on what to pack, or what to bring to Realm Makers specifically, how to prep if you’re going to pitch to an agent or publisher, and so forth. Those posts are immensely helpful, and I recommend you check them out!

But this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

I’m here to speak to your writer heart from mine, about how to prepare internally for going out among a huge throng of fellow Christian writers, maybe for the first time ever.

First of all…

1. It’s totally normal to be nervous.

Don’t be embarrassed by it. Or surprised. Many of us writers are shy little introverted butterflies, and the thought of going to a conference full of strangers – and, eeeek, talking about our writing! – makes us shudder. Or maybe you have something else to be nervous about, like the travel.

This is NORMAL.

Feel it. Accept it. Embrace it. Don’t be scared by your own fear! Listen to music that gives you courage, read Scripture passages about bravery, and combat each lie with the truth of who you are in Christ and why you have nothing to fear.

(I made a playlist to listen to on the plane the first year I went, to fill my heart with truth and courage…if you’d like to listen to it, I’ve put it on Spotify, here!)

2. Look outside yourself.

Think about this: you are going to go to this conference and be surrounded by other people who are just as terrified as you are. Even some people going back for the second or third time have new things to be nervous about! We can always use a smile and an encouraging word, no matter how experienced we are. All of us are only human.

Instead of allowing your nerves to swallow you whole, look outside yourself. Smile. Say hello. Sit next to someone you haven’t met before and ask them what they’re writing. Show the love of Christ to someone. ALL of us can do this. You’re never too new or too shy to bless others!

Focus on making others feel seen and welcome, and you’ll totally forget to worry about how people are perceiving you. 🙂

3. Start praying NOW.

Pray for the teachers, for the fellowship between authors, for Christ to be glorified in you and by the conference as a whole.

We are WRITERS. And not only that, we are CHRISTIANS. We have great power. Satan will attack us wherever we are weak, whenever he can, because what is more terrifying to him than a room full of Holy-Spirit-filled writers and their stories that are written to the glory of the King of kings?

But we aren’t powerful because of us. We’re powerful because of the God we serve. Let’s soak this conference in fervent prayer before we even arrive! And remember that when we come together, we represent Christ and His bride, the Church – let’s pray for the power to live that out in everything we say and do.

4. Expect to have a breakdown.

Confession: at my first Realm Makers, I spent one late afternoon in my room, stuffing my face into my pillow so my roomies wouldn’t hear me sobbing. I’d just walked away from a (basically lifelong) WIP a month before, which I thought I would be able to bring and pitch to a publisher, and I didn’t know who I was or where I was going anymore.

That Realm Makers was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. It changed my life. It was incredible! But all the teaching, the experience, and the excitement forced me to come face-to-face with a lot of griefs and yearnings. Cue breakdown!

….Confession #2: at my second Realm Makers, I cried all through my first plane flight home, because I still hadn’t been able to return to that WIP, it was all I wanted to write, and I was still processing feelings. 😛 (It’s my current WIP now, so, God is good. 😀 )

Breakdowns happen. Even to those of us who aren’t newbies!

Especially if you’re the kind of person who feels a lot of feeeeeelings…straight up plan for this when you go to a conference. Expect it. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

There will almost certainly be a point (before, during, or after, or even all three) where you feel discouraged, lonely, exhausted, like an abject failure, or even spiritually attacked. There is a lot to process at a conference, and you don’t get life-changing without at least a little freak-outery! You’ll be introduced to so many new thoughts; you’ll feel the weight of missed opportunities; you’ll wonder about your career and where it’s headed; maybe a pitch appointment will go poorly…there are so many things to freak out about.

BUT IT WILL BE OKAY. Take your panic or your sadness straight to God, and thank Him for even the hard and painful parts of such a big experience. Pray for wisdom to move forward with your writing to His glory.

You will get through this, and it will not destroy your conference experience – not if you don’t let it!

5. Expect God to bless you in ways you didn’t even anticipate.

People will be even nicer than you expect. You’ll make new friends. You’ll find great new books. You’ll hear something in a seminar that will forever free you and fuel you for the rest of your writing life. If you are going to Realm Makers, you will be surrounded by blessings you never even imagined or expected. These people are a tribe. And they are wonderful.

So go forward with confidence and eagerness!

It’s going to be AMAZING.


Have you been to Realm Makers or another writing conference before? What advice would you give for preparing yourself mentally and spiritually for a conference?


Author Updates: Realm Makers 2017, New Author Services, and Simmering Mind Designs Raffle Winner!

August 1, 2017

After a long night of flying, I’m back from another amazing Realm Makers conference!

Last year when I went to the conference in Philly, I was struggling as an author. I had just put away my trilogy and was floundering deep in that fresh heartbreak. I was working on a new project, but aware my heart wasn’t fully in it. And I was only beginning to unravel some of the intense soul-challenges God had planned for me over my identity and motivations as an author. But I went away from RM2016 refueled, encouraged, and uplifted, more confident in my calling than ever before.

As I expected, that was true of RM2017 as well.

Strangely, my trilogy haunted me all weekend, ever since getting on the plane to Reno. After several months of supernatural peace about it, that’s a bit unusual. I’m again praying for guidance on when to return to it, but so far God’s answer remains “wait.” And I’m still processing how to apply some of the new insights I gained through this conference.

But I had wonderful times of fellowship with friends, and enjoyed some fantastic classes from authors such as Mary Weber, Jim Rubart, Lisa Mangum, and Robert Liparulo. It was so good to meet so many fantastic people for the first time and to reunite with good friends!! And although I didn’t agree with everything in his speeches, keynote speaker Ted Dekker was fascinating, with some really good heart-hitting insights as well.

And I was blessed to wear the “Published” banner on my name tag this year! – bearing testament to the fact that I’ve put out two short stories in the past year. It may feel sometimes like I’ve been spinning my wheels, but I have truly been moving forward in my writing, and I’m so thankful for Threadbare and Dragon Lyric and those who have read and loved them.

Vendor Table

It was also exciting to attend as a full-fledged businessperson with a vendor table. I had Simmering Mind Designs shirts and tote bags for sale, as well as paperbacks of my short stories and prints of the painting on Dragon Lyric’s cover.

Before I launch into some of the other news I have to share, I’d like to mention here that there are still some shirts and art prints left!

These shirts were a custom batch from a local printer, so they’re slightly different from the ones in my Society6 shop, and I’m selling them at the lower conference cost of $22, which will include shipping (although if you’re international you may have to pay for the shipping on that).

If you’re interested in purchasing a shirt or one of the art prints of Roth and Theryn ($18 shipped), please contact me using the contact form at the bottom of this post!

I have varying sizes and colors for these three designs:

  • “Pardon my vacant stare – my mind is another world” (blue, gray, and black)
  • “Ask me about my imaginary friends” (gray and purple, women’s sizes only)
  • “I create worlds – what’s your superpower?” (blue, gray, and black)

Raffle Winner

As those of you who went to Realm Makers may know, that purple bucket on my table was for entries in a giveaway (and signups for my newsletter). I’m excited to announce that the winner of the giveaway was Jamie Foley, who chose a paperback for her prize. Congratulations, Jamie!! You are such a delightful person and I’m so glad I got to meet you at RM! 😀

Author Services Changes

And last but not least, I’d like to announce some changes to my author services page. Due to the busyness of this season of life, I have chosen to step back from line and content editing to focus more on proofreading and one of my other longtime loves – graphic design! I am still offering blurb help, definitely. But I am adding a few new things to my repertoire, so if you’d like help with polishing your work and showing it off to the world with graphics, edited synopses, etc., please check out my author services page – I’d love to work with you! 🙂

Current pricing (click HERE for more info on all services and examples of my design work):

  • Blurb Writing: $25
  • Promo Graphics: $15 each
  • Social Media Headers: $15 each
  • One-Sheet Design and Edit: $30
  • Synopsis, Proposal, or Query Edit: $25 and up – contact me for a free evaluation and price quote
  • Proofreading: $0.0035/word ($350 for a 100,000 word novel) – minimum cost $15

Fill out the form below if you’re interested in buying a shirt or art print! I can also ship signed paperbacks. 🙂


Realm Makers 2016, Here I Come!!

July 27, 2016

Things will be pretty quiet on the blog this week because….I’m flying out to Philadelphia for REALM MAKERS!!!

I have been dying to go to RM ever since it existed, so I am over the top excited. 😀 😀  I’m meeting a lot of friends who I’ve known online for awhile, rooming with some of my best friends and meeting them in person for the first time, getting to learn from experienced authors and professionals in the industry, and getting to have a ton of geeky fun with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy speculative fiction as much as I do.  It is going to be a BLAST.

So I’m packing my cosplay stuff for the costume banquet… (Here’s me so excited about my costume jacket and arm braces when they came in the mail.  Can you guess who I’m going to be?)


…and my Nerf “arsenal” – which consists of one gun and some darts.  Girly ones, because I can.  When I’m going out shooting I might as well do it with feminine style! 😀



And in addition to the geeky fun stuff, I’m organizing a sample packet of three chapters, plot summary, and a one-sheet for my current work in progress.  I won’t be pitching this year, contrary to what I originally thought (due to setting aside my dearest WIP and starting a new one in June), but it’s always good to have your materials on hand in case somebody…*gulp*…asks about it!

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And between all the packing and prepping before I fly out tomorrow, I’m trying to give my kids lots of extra hugs and loves because I’ve never travelled without at least one baby since I became a mom!  I know my husband will hold down the fort fantastically and probably better than I do on a given day, 😉 but I will miss him and these four little snugglers! <3

So I may not be putting out a Simmer Starters this Friday, but I will definitely be posting to all the social media with the hashtag #RealmMakers2016, because it is going to be awesome. 😀


Are you going to Realm Makers??? Will I see you there?  If not, maybe next year? 😀


When You Cosplay From Your Soul – AKA Realm Makers Costume Decision Angst!

May 23, 2016

EEEEEP.  I am beyond excited to go to the Realm Makers conference for the first time this year!!

Along with all the awesome lectures and learning experiences, Realm Makers also has a costume banquet (and a Nerf War!!).  I am seriously counting down the days.

But the costume banquet means…deciding on someone to be for the night.

Initially I chickened out and said I might just dress nicely for the dinner and not wear a costume.  Then a cosplay-loving friend set me straight. 😛


Very well then. 😀

The trick is – I’m so horribly picky!

Not only do I want the costume to look good, and be relatively inexpensive and easy to pull off, but it’s also incredibly important that it be “very me.”

I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I’d gone through several ideas and found the common thread between all of them.  In order for a costume to feel “right” for me, it has to tap into some deep part of my own identity.  I must have a personal connection to the character or concept I’m cosplaying.  If I’m going to dress up “fake” as someone else, it has to be congruent with who I am as a person!  I need that personal connection.  I can’t just pick something because it looks cool or because they’re a favorite character.  The deep personal meaning is of utmost importance.

I have the feeling that this is true for most people – that whether we like it or not, and whether or not we intend to, the costumes we choose say something about our souls.

Personally, I’m intensely intentional about it.  And maybe I’m just overly analytical, but this kind of pickiness makes it really hard to think of costume ideas. 😛

Eowyn’s a character I feel pretty strongly connected with, but pulling off a costume for her would be complicated and/or very expensive.  (Not to mention I can’t bring my sword on the plane.  That makes it about half as exciting to be her, haha.)

Another of my favorite characters ever, Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) doesn’t look anything like me.  I doubt I could pull her off convincingly, and even if I did it would require me to make or buy a complex costume, as well as wear a large, uncomfortable wig over my own copious hair.  That’s a no-go.

Finally a stroke of brilliance hit – I could go as Athena!


I’ve loved Greek mythology ever since I was a child and read the D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys.  Athena was always my favorite.  She wasn’t typically involved in the stupid erotic hijinks of the other characters in the pantheon.  She was goddess of wisdom (supposedly one of my spiritual gifts), warfare (I’m all about spiritual warfare!!) and the arts (how perfect is that??).  And her symbol is the OWL, my favorite animal!!

I thought for sure this would be my perfect cosplay.

Then I bought myself a helmet and it ended up being…way too big.  I had to awkwardly perch it on top of my head, where it was in danger of toppling off any minute.  And that really wasn’t what I was going for. 😛  I pictured myself balancing a helmet on my head all evening, along with an unsteady owl perched on my shoulder, and with that my mental concept dropped from “epic” to “goofy.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 4.54.26 PM

The idea of being Athena soured on me – maybe I’ll tuck that away for another year.

For awhile I toyed with the thought of being Princess Leia, in her Ewok Village dress.  My hair looks almost exactly like that, and Star Wars was my big childhood fandom.

But her dress was too complicated.  I didn’t want to undertake a sewing project that complex within the next ten weeks, with all the other jobs I have on my plate.

Then, the other night, I was scrolling through Pinterest when I noticed some fan art of the Maximoff twins.

I was suddenly struck by ALL THE FEELS.

I forgot that Wanda loses her twin brother!!

I felt an instant kinship with her at that realization – because of my emotional experience last year, when I wrote a short story in which my protagonist was actually my dead twin (that’s a very complicated tale…).

Writing that short AU story jumpstarted a lot of creative inspiration for my actual book.  Without that odd writing experience, my real trilogy wouldn’t be where it is now.  Furthermore, it was a very spiritually transformative experience that God gave me right before I needed it most.  It seems fitting that my cosplay draw on that aspect of my personal history. 🙂

Not only did I feel an emotional connection to Wanda over the lost twin thing, but her costume is pretty cool.  AND it would give me a great excuse to buy a red leather jacket, like I’ve wanted to for a long time…

Admittedly I don’t know much about Scarlet Witch – I haven’t even seen Civil War yet.  Bad Marvel fan!  (Actually, just a busy Marvel fan with four kids…BUT it turns out that my husband and I are finally seeing it tonight!!  Yay!)

I wrote this post a couple of days ago.  At this point, I may or may not have a final decision on what to be for the Realm Makers banquet. 😉

But no matter what I ultimately choose, it’s going to have to come from my soul, even if only I can see the connection.  It will be something I relate to on a deep emotional level, something I am trying to share about myself, even as I show off a favorite fandom.


Have you ever cosplayed?  What is your rationale for choosing a character or concept to portray?  Do you feel like your costumes say something about your soul?  I’d love to hear about it. 🙂