There and Back Again: A Realm Makers 2021 Story

I’m back safe and/or sound, though the rumors of my soundness seem to be greatly exaggerated. I know several of you are wondering why I don’t post stuff before or during RM when I go, but that’s purely for safety reasons. So I save it all for now.

The Gateway Arch… and a train. I like trains.

I am so absolutely positively grateful to have been among my fellow Realmies again. I MISSED YOU GUYS SO MUCH! Awkward hugs and high fives all around.

Last day out the door with my darling bride.

The highlight in many ways was getting a chance to talk more than a couple times with Frank Piretti. I mean come on. As his keynote mentioned he felt like (and we all concurred) he is a professor emeritus of so many of us Christian authors out there. Particularly spec fic. I just wish I’d have gotten a picture with him, and not just with him talking to my wife at breakfast. (sorry, not sharing. too personal and private. Plus it’s a bad angle, for both.) So here’s a different candid shot. See if you can guess the author by their hands. LOL.. just kidding.

Playing Guillotine with Rob Story, Kat Vinson, Emily Haese (spelling?), Elizabeth Liberty Lewis, Kate Prater & and a quick round fill in by Megan Ward (I believe that was her last name).

The best moments from cons like this are often the candid ones not in classes and just by happenstance. You also never know who you’re going to touch and who will touch you back. The Clevandence sisters (apologies if misspelled) made my night at the book fair when I asked her what her favorite scene was in my first book, and I loved the writing of that same (grisly) scene too. It was a real highlight for me to talk like that.

For those who don’t know or realize, authors often love hearing back from their readers personally. Especially for us small indie authors. Too often we publish into the void, like every author and never know if we touched your lives. To hear when we do brings us all a spark of joy. Of course if we ticked you off, sigh, please extend us grace. We’re sensitive souls and may know the thing that ticked you off wasn’t our best efforts to. Kinda like a sports star who has a famous bad play regrets their mistake too. But still, it reminds us we’re not alone. We are touching others out there. So never be shy with your (positive) feedback, and be gentle (but honest) with us when we goof.

This year, my darling bride got me to cosplay for the awards banquet. It was a spectacular time. She had a whole backstory about the 1950’s librarian who’s favorite hero came to life for her. The story evolved through the night and was quite quite cute. But I have several pictures I got with people I have a real soft spot for in my writing career. Some I can share.

I was very happy to be friends with two winners of the Realm Awards. Very proud of their achievements that night and had some great conversations with so many people.

All in all, going to Realm Makers was a wonderful reminder of the good things in life. This last 24 months since I was at RM in the flesh has been a rollercoaster. In many ways I’ve ended up in a far better place, but at times… just I’m reminded to be grateful for what I have.

Oh, and I have leftover paperbacks and a few hardcovers from the consignment store. I’m toying with doing something special with at least one set of the books, but am also considering selling a couple sets of autographed copies. What do y’all think about that? Of course, I’d have to figure out how to set up a store, paypal and all that. I dunno what options are available. We’ll see though. Of course, if you want to encourage me, let your thoughts be known in the poll below.

Okay, more soon when there’s stuff to say!

Road Trip! (& a Life Update)

I wasn’t sure this was going to happen. Really really wasn’t, but I put it on the altar for the Lord to make the decision.

This last week I got my answer. The City and County of St. Louis dropped their masking mandates and the hotel is being all mealy mouthed on following local ordinances. So I’m going back to Realm Makers! (Those of you on my Discord channel learned about this last week of course.)

So cue up the house sitter so the cats don’t get lonely-

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Bwing us tweats, hooman.

-aaaaaaaaand it’s time to go hang out with my fellow Realmies in the flesh again! I’m so glad it’s back in St. Louis, even if it’s now an extra 3 hours of drive time for me. At least the first half of it is going to be very pretty coming out of the mountains.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do the consignment store this year. I could, and I have something I can get for the gift bag if I can find a printer in time. I really didn’t prepare because I didn’t expect to go. Oh well, even if I don’t bring anything since finances will be tighter this year, it is still going to be very much worth my while.

I guess what made me the most enthused about this year is that the guest of honor is Frank Piretti. His “This Present Darkness” was the book that made me realize that you could write about the spiritual warfare side of Christianity in a refreshing and interesting way that was an evolution of a pair of my all time favorite Christian books, “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis. Seriously, if you’ve not read those two, check them out. Amazing stuff. Piretti took the concept and ran. If things are going berserk in your life and you have no idea why, I highly encourage you to read “This Present Darkness” too. It may make some personal sense to you.

As for my writing, I’ve been getting scolded for leaving Akiniwazisaga on the back burner too long in my alpha reader’s eyes, and I have another fan who’s been telling me to hurry up so she doesn’t run out of series to read. She doesn’t want to wait for the conclusion of the story. Thanks guys.

Lately the writing focus has continued on the third novella in the Tales From the Dream Nebula series. Making sure you all get your money’s worth out of it before I let it out the gate. The first two novellas have hit the editing stage, and once that’s complete, we look at doing the script for the graphic novels.

One big discussion that’s started up though has been merchandise. I’m curious to hear what others would love to see as merchandise to buy from Akiniwazisaga. Apparel is coming (yes I know I’ve said that for a while, but we’re finally getting ready to move on some of this. The easy answers are of course typical book merch like coffee mugs, posters and bookmarks. There’s been some talk of different things too (I personally want a life sized plush version of Bergamot, but oof, the cost of making custom toys. I don’t even want to think what it would take to make Popvinyl toys even. A much bigger fan base to be certain)

Anyway, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on merch ideas they’d love to see associated with Akiniwazisaga or the characters.

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Realm Makers Conference 2020 Public Event: Realm Awards Ceremony!

Thanks to the pandemic, RM2020 has gone virtual, and this means the Realm Awards Ceremony (which used to be a banquet full of cosplay and other fun stuff) is open to the public!  When?

TONIGHT @

Ever been interested in what a bunch of sci fi creatives do when massed in one place, even if virtually?  Now’s your chance!

https://www.crowdcast.io/e/realmawards2020

You may see a lot of authors (*other than me) you are familiar with there, chatting away!

Come on in, and see what it’s all about!

Out the Other Side & Much More

Last week I kinda got some crummy news but it was wrapped with lots of silver linings. Lots.

But first…

I’ve survived the plague, and the lockdown, and have managed to crack out 20 chapters on Book 4 of Akiniwazisaga.  The sad part? This may only be 20% of the entire book length.  I’m not sure, but this bad boy’s going to be a whopper.  If you want to keep up with the latest details on what’s going on in writing and life in general, you can check it out on my Discord Channel.  Link above. It’s worth it.

it even gave me a chance to read some Realmie books I purchased last conference.  Here’s some of them I bought:

 

 

Speaking of Discord…

The news finally broke this year that Realm Makers 2020 conference has gone virtual, thanks mostly to the State of New Jersey unable to unclench long enough to pull their head’s out and take a breath.  That means RM2020 is now a virtual conference, like all the other conventions and conferences all over the US stretching into next year.  I just… I… Come ON people, you don’t quarantine healthy individuals!  So here’s where the silver linings begin.

In the process of setting up for the virtual RM2020, we were told that it will be using Discord as a big part of it’s operation.  I happened to be right place/right time cheerleading and helping out on a different RM related Discord forum and got the powers that be to understand what was happening and how the system works. Thanks to those fortuitous (yeah, I see God’s hand all over it) I became a moderator to help out with handling the training of a lot of conference goers and then assisting as a mod for the con!  Woot! So that’s kinda fun to be on the inside of that one. A lot of energy has been spent on this setup and onboarding of writers from all over the world, it’s almost been a full time job.

Which leads me to the blessing in disguise of being laid off just as COVID19 shut everything down. So we’ll see how long it takes either to get a call back (ain’t holding my breath) or a new position.  Till then, writing, RM modding and creative endeavors will fill my days, mortared together with job hunting.

What about those other creative endeavors?  Music!  I’ve mentioned for a while I’m doing music, well now I’m posting some stuff on my youtube channel, with more to come as I feel appropriate and have the time.  Unfortunately the last song was too long, so Youtube rejected it.  Will have to try with some others. Here’s one example.

I’m an enthusiastic amature, so take that into account.

 

And as sort of a bittersweet farewell to the idea of going to Atlantic City this year, here are pictures from last year’s RM to cheer me up, and for you to enjoy too.

Book 3 is Approaching so Fast!

Just a quick note on the state of Book Three of the Akiniwazisaga.

“Into The High Places” is in the final stages of editing and formatting.  Barring any interference, the desire is to release by Labor Day.

As a little thank you for your patience from not getting it out in July, here’s an excerpt from what’s to come:

AKINIWAZISAGA - BOOK 3 - E-BOOK - FINAL

1. Beyond the Bounds of Law

 

Brother Finn looked back through the branches of the forest and down the path they had climbed to leave the Eitrfjord. Far in the distance, the last sliver of Lake Wanashiabinoogi shimmered, begging him to turn back. Finn stared at the bright flickers on the deep blue of water, palms sweating and his heart began to pound for a brand new reason.

“Just one more step, Bergie,” Finn muttered.

“All it would take is one more step, the lake would disappear from sight and my skoggang breaks,” he said to his ever faithful companion who only panted in reply. “I would become fredlause, you know? Unprotected by the law, any man who desired to take my life could do so without fear. Just like a wild animal… no reprisals… no feud… no trial. Only justice served.”

Glancing further down the trail at the small ad hoc company with whom he had thrown in his lot, Finn was still astonished with his reasoning. He gave Bergamot, his mastiff , a bittersweet smile. She waited patiently under her heavy packs.

“Such is my life,” Brother Finn said with a small snort. “Why should I even care about breaking my obedience to the Kyrkja so much? They were the unjust ones, but yet I remain chained to their ideas and authority regardless of its perversion,” he complained to her.

Misty sunlight sliced up the shade of the thick forest into glittering magical shafts. A still voice whispered in his mind, “The needs of the Forsamling are far greater than claims of the Orthodoxy. The purposes of God are grander than the vision of a few petty men in comfortable palaces.”

Brother Finn nodded a few times with the wise words that came from somewhere deep within, drew a cleansing breath through his nose and resolved to serve both his Lord and his Tign. Turning his back to the lake, Finn began descending the deer trail. The act completed his disobedience to the laws of man. His fate rested in the hands of God and Visekonge.

Far down the slope the group headed toward the sound of a babbling brook. No one had noticed Finn’s personal struggle or failure to keep up. Their long climb out of the Eitrfjord made them grateful to have a downward slope that quickened their steps. Finn could no longer see the rest of the party through the foliage but heard their voices echoing through the trees. They were much too loud for Finn’s comfort. Who knew what else could be listening among the curtains of green? He and Bergamot rushed to catch up. As the slope grew steeper, gaps in the canopy showed they were rapidly descending into a series of interconnected valleys. The white and gray peaks and palisades of the Ondeandkorgfjell fanned out before them, ominous and beautiful.

A branch cracked above and to his left. Finn had just enough time to see Friar Amr flying at him from out of a dense cluster of spruce with a bloodcurdling grin on his face. Brother Finn could not bring his harpoon to bear on Amr’s attack in time and was bowled over with a loud whoof.

Thyrnir charged out of some dense brush, barrelling down the grade. Bergamot wheeled on Thyrnir and growled, intercepting the other dog’s attack, knocking him down with her superior size, using her packs like armor. The two dogs tore at each other in a frenzy, while both their masters slashed and blocked each other in a blind tangle. Friar Amr’s strikes missed by a hair’s breadth with the barb of his harpoon but struck soundly with the blunt end. Brother Finn fought to gain distance from this savage attack.

Then just as quickly as it began, Friar Amr and Thyrnir vanished!

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

Home is both a welcome and sad thing today.

Today, I come back to reality for I have survived Realm Makers Conference 2019.  Half melted from the heat wave, exhausted and generally feeling like a pile o puppy poo from the long drive it was an outstanding experience. I sold some books, gave away a LOT of swag, took some classes that REALLY challenged me, had some very helpful mentor appointments, pitched a new idea for a second project and loved every minute of it.

I have evidence I was there with a few pictures, but don’t take many and do not like being in them generally speaking. If I get enough people who want to see some, I’ll share a little bit about the experience… but y’all better show you want to see these through likes.  Otherwise they’re mine, all mine.

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Yes… that is half a pot.  No photographic trickery.  I’m too tired.

But now to recover, and brace for re-entry into the real world.  I am not ready.  Time for coffee.

 

Now In Print!… and More!

That’s right, I made sure before I put this up for you all, but both books are now available in paperback and hardcover!  So scoop up your copy today!

But for those of you still wanting an ebook, in celebration of the Realm Makers Conference happening this week, keep your eyes peeled for a FREE… yes you heard me… FREE copy of “A Light Rises in a Dark World”!  It’s only for a very limited time and available only on Kindle Unlimited, but there’s your chance!

Just… when you’re done leave a review so I know what you thought about it all, okay?  Thanks!

 

 

More news coming soon!

Now On To Formatting! (and other news)

girl reading a newspaper

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Editing (with the exception of a couple technical whoopsies caught by proof reading ) is done!  I am so relieved.  Both Books 1 and 2 are now set to be formatted, sent to the printer and released.  I am hoping, barring restrictions that this will be complete in April.  A goodish month for me all things considered.

So what comes next?

BOOK 3!  The editing begins!  My goal is mid July, and although I set the deadline, it has some real world outside of myself backup to get it done. That means Beta Readers will be needed again by Early June at the latest, and a cover I hope by the same time.

And once all that is done, I can turn my attention to Book 4… which isn’t written yet, but it’s been building in my head.  I have certain scenes envisioned and now a few new characters, plot twists, questions to answer… not to mention ask!

When will that finish?  I’m not going to predict other than to say 2020.  I know that’s the year I want to start looking at audiobooks, and that will be the goal, but those will probably be pushed back till late 2020, after I finish Book 4 so it can all be done at once.  We’ll see.  This is long range blue skying it right now.

As for other things, Realm Makers 2019 in Saint Louis is fast approaching and I am both full of joyful squee and screams of terror.  Why?  Give away merchandise for attendees and a few choices on merchandising.  I’ve no idea what kind of good memorable give-away I can provide, but I want to do something nice.

What’s that?  You didn’t realize I wanted to do some merch for my books?  Oh yes… yes indeed I do!

What kind of merch?

I hope to do something with teeshirts and my covers and maybe hats with my logo on it.  We’re gonna have to see what I can come up with.  Honestly though I really need help with this stuff.  I’ve been researching companies to do it through, but I can’t afford to play with inventory, online stores, order fulfillment and all that jazz.  Heck, you see how good I am with this blog current!

That said, once I get some shirts designed for me to wear, I do hope to set it up for all of y’all to be able to buy them if you want.  That’s the hope on the clothing.

But nuff said.  There’s also one other dream item I’d love to do, but that would require some real help with someone who has know-how and the ability to help me set up a “Manufacture On Demand” setup.

What is this dream item?  Wellllll….. okay, I’ll tell you, just realize this is in the dreaming with no idea how to pull it off still:  Stuffed Bergamots.  Yes, Actually, I want to do stuffed doggies, same with Hawthorne (you’ll meet him later)  It’d be really fun to do stuffed versions of Brother Finn, Reimar and other characters…. or… something else!  HAH!  But that’s even more blue sky thinking so I’ll keep that in the cooler till it’s ready to start prepping.

So that’s the news right now.  Hope to give a hard date on the release soon.

TTYL

 

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Cross Post from Realm Makers Group

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Cross posting for those Christian Speculative Fiction writers thinking about attending Realm Makers Consortium next year, but are feeling too insecure to do so:

~~~~~

Okay, I will admit here, I was in the same spot when they announced for this year’s conference. This was my first writers conference of any kind and a lot rode on whether or not this went well. I hemmed and hawed the first time I looked over the itinerary. I didn’t know why I should bother.

I’m a stone introvert after all, hate crowds and generally have a low tolerance for several things in life. I have many coping mechanisms, but they all lead me drained and wanting to hide under the bed with dust bunnies to comfort me. (That’s why you never saw me at the after party kinda stuff. I was face down and foaming in my bed lest I was something other than my coping sunny faced insanity)

But… I had a very caring editor yell… literally yell at me and say go. So I signed up. No clue what to do, I just closed my eyes and said okay. I do not for one second regret it. I decided that I’m going to leave all my anxieties at home, force myself to drive 8 hours… through Illinois… and meet people and maybe possibly learn something that might help me grow.

I also made a conscious, terrifying decision that I was going to talk to people I normally would never dream of doing so. If someone looked scared like I felt, I’d reassure them. If someone talked to me, I’d screw on a smile and put myself out there to be embarrassed and maybe rejected because I had NOTHING to lose. If it all failed… pffft. I go back and hide in my cocoon and have learned a valuable lesson. I had to believe or at least pretend to believe that just about every person new there felt the same way.

Even as the ‘point of no return’ for registration and backing out of the hotel came up I still almost cancelled. But I didn’t. You will not regret it. One of the editors on the opening night panel (I think it was Steve Laube actually… the Dream Crusher for those of you who were there) said that Realmmakers is a “safe place to fail”. It is. It is the most welcoming place I have had to fail at. To have people you never expected to like your cockamamie idea to squeal with joy and shout “COOL!”

There is little more gratifying and soul soothing than that. Even if you haven’t published, but are trying to get published…. you have no excuse. There is a significant and loving portion of Realmies that are in the same boat as you! Team up! Encourage each other! You never know when your story may be what is needed to push another out of the valley of their own self doubt and despair and God has said “I am delegating this task to you. You are the only one who I can trust do this right. No pressure. You got this.”

So… next year… if you have the cash to do it, can manage a way to clear life out of the way… GET HERE! If for nothing else, you learn you are not alone. This FB group pales in comparison to the intensive therapy you get when meeting these people in person. (no offense guys, but you’re better in person)

There is nothing more valuable to lose than what you gain by showing up, sticking out your hand and saying “hello”. Sit at a table at breakfast and ask someone you never met before to sit down and break bread (or eggs and bacon. Lots of bacon) with you.

There. All excuses erased.

See you there next year.

 

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Busy Bee. That R Me.

July has been kinda crazed in many ways for me.  Hence why so few posts.  Books 2 and 3 are done.  I just finished the Story Grid edit of Book 2 yesterday, and the week before that, I was at the Realm Makers Consortium 2018 Conference for 5 days.

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A blast was had, and I learned I neither suck at writing, and I have so much more to learn.  Seriously, the classes were phenomenal (with one exception that for a Christian Speculative Fiction Conference was a seriously sour note… but easy to forgive.  I keep thinking of the Niles and Frasier Crane definition of a perfect meal, where everything is perfect, except for one small flaw to pick at for the rest of the evening.

I will be going back, barring the apocalypse or some other minor but inconvenient tribulation.  :cP

No I don’t have pictures.  I don’t like pictures of myself.  I look like a couch with a goatee and an arm brace.  Who needs that kinda pressure?

That’s been July.  Busy editing, learning and generally finding things to fix in my book.  Hoo boy, it’s going to be an interesting edit.  I’m now scheduling two more passes through the book on my own where I do an out loud read through as well as another pass to get it looking nice and polished before I send it over to my editor.

My editor and I had dinner last night, and we talked about what scene to use for the cover.  Originally I wanted to do a triptych for the next three books, but alas, I do not think it’s going to be.  So I’m going to just be happy that I found a scene that portrays Brother Finn and Bergamot I like.  The other four scenes I seriously considered just all had fundamental flaws for how to portray the book best.  Also, you didn’t get Brother Finn like on the ALRDW cover.  I probably should contract the artist soon, if this is going to be a November release.  Yeah, it’s looking like that’s possible.

Still don’t have a title though.  Just the working title, which is going bubye.  Need something more fitting for the aesthetic.  I may wait till my Beta Readers get back to me.

Ohh!  That reminds me!  Beta Readers!  I’m going to put out an open offer for some people to get involved in the beta reading process.

What does this mean?

Ideally I would like to get between 10 and 20 beta readers.  I know that seems like a lot for some authors, but well, I like getting lots of feedback to consider.  I am writing something I want, but it also needs to satisfy you readers.

It will be for the month of September with a hard deadline of probably the last week of the month.  The date is not settled on yet.  I’m going to be a bit more strict this book, but I would love to get some of my fans involved.  I will also consider creating a Discord channel for us to be able to discuss the book.  Or perhaps we can set up a discussion forum on the blog here, or through Minds.com.  Again, haven’t decided but that will firm up, depending on participation from you guys.

Of course that means you will be rewarded with a free Ebook for your participation if you get in and provide the feedback I need once the book releases.

As a consequence of the conference (say that 3 times fast), I will not be doing a pre-order.  I found out Amazon changed their algorithm and it now screws over rankings for those who do pre-orders.  So if I do, it’s going to be less than 5 days if I do it at all.  So thank Amazon everybody.  Speaking of which, I’m probably going to go Amazon Exclusive for these next three books and see how that improves or hurts my sales.  See what Kindle Unlimited will do for me.

Lastly, I have a hardcover here that I am wondering what to do with.  It was supposed to go with me to Realm Makers, but showed up a few hours after I had to leave.  That means I have no current plans with it but the ideas are simmering.  I’m sure there are people out there who would like an autographed copy of the book.  But what to do for a contest for it?  I was thinking about fan art.  Be a shame to throw a contest and nobody came.  So if you like the idea, best let me know.  Something fun for a run up to Book 2’s release.  So, thoughts?  talk to me now for this is the time.

Well, that’s all for now.  The plan is:
August: editing
September: Beta Read
October: More editing, cover and formatting
November: Final polish and release (Late Nov publish date most likely)

Repeat process for an April Release of Book 3.

Repeat process for a November/December release of Book 4 (if all goes according to plan).

So there you have it.  Hope you like it.  Let me know what you think!

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