Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Realm Makers Con Report

Enigmatic Mirror Press (i.e., Donald and Kristin) spent the last weekend at Realm Makers in Reno, Nevada. Realm Makers is a speculative fiction conference for (primarily) Christian writers, and this was its 5th year. It just keeps getting better. When we first attended two years ago, we weren't convinced it was worthwhile for most authors aiming to get published by general market vs. Christian publishers, but each year the conference organizers manage to bring in more agents and editors with general market credentials, and we run into more and more authors who may be Christian, but are aiming for a broader audience.

We were particularly excited to connect with other independent publishers that are--like us--coming out with books that don't fit into a traditional Christian publishing mold (Uncommon Universes Press and The Crossover Alliance, for instance; check them out!). Bestselling Christian horror writer Ted Dekker was this year's keynote speaker, with plenty of interesting and provocative ideas to share with the crowd. A great weekend, and we encourage other Christians who are speculative fiction authors and artists to look into Realm Makers for next year. (Although you certainly aren't required to identify as Christian in order to attend!)

We also met with our friend and fellow anthologist, Travis Perry of Bear Publications, who may be helping us out on the next volume of Mysterion. We finally got to meet Jessica Snell in real-life (Jessica reviewed the first Mysterion, and shares a Myers-Briggs personality type with Kristin). And we enjoyed chatting with Scott Thomas, Arpit Mehta, Kat Heckenbach, Peter Leavell, Teddi DeppnerDavid Farland, Robert Liparulo, and Paul Stevens--and many others!

We were thrilled to see our friend Frederic S. Durbin win the Realm Award for Best Fantasy by a Christian author, for his novel A Green and Ancient Light (which Kristin is still looking forward to reading, after Donald gave it to her for Christmas). Fred wasn't at Realm Makers--we know him from the World Fantasy Convention--but he's a great guy and an excellent writer (Kristin especially enjoyed his incredibly creepy Locus-Award-nominated story "The Bone Man", published about 10 years ago in Fantasy & Science Fiction).

And of course, we told anyone and everyone about our Kickstarter for the next volume of Mysterion. It's not the only reason we went, of course, but Mysterion is what initially inspired us to start attending Realm Makers and get more connected with the Christian speculative fiction community.

But what about the food, you ask? Don't Enigmatic Mirror Press con reports usually include restaurant reviews?

Well, unlike most of the cons we attend, meals were included in the overall registration fee. Most meals. This meant that, to Kristin's horror upon realizing it at the end, we didn't go outside even once between arriving at the hotel on Thursday afternoon and leaving on Sunday morning. (It was probably for the best; daily highs in Reno were hovering around the mid-90s.)

We did, however, manage to eat at two different restaurants, both within the hotel (which was actually a casino; but are there any hotels in Reno that aren't also casinos?). Because Kristin is a picky eater, considers breakfast the most important meal of the day, and doesn't like to stand in a long line for food when she's really really hungry, she decided that the continental breakfast provided to conference attendees wasn't going to cut it, and opted for the hotel buffet breakfast instead, at Toucan Charlie's. This was amazing! And Kristin is very hard to impress, food-wise. On weekdays, it was cheaper than the buffet at the last convention hotel we stayed at, the Boston Marriott Quincy, and about 10 times better. What didn't they have? Whether you were in the mood for Mexican, Chinese, a carving station (pork belly the first day, turkey and brisket the second), fried chicken, or traditional American breakfast favorites (including made-to-order omelettes and pancakes), they probably had whatever you wanted (amusingly, they had about 4 bacon stations scattered throughout the buffet, including at the end of the Mexican food section--they know people love their bacon!). Oh, they also had continental breakfast favorites (boring!), a good variety of fruit (strawberries, cherries, sliced peach/nectarine/plum medley, stewed figs, etc.), lots of pastries, house-made gelato, smoked salmon ... the list goes on. And the food was actually good. Seriously, if you're ever in Reno, you should eat here.

For dinner on Saturday night (which was not included in the price of admission), the Atlantis Steakhouse was the obvious choice, given Donald's love of steak. Donald liked it, but Kristin thought it was kind of meh, honestly. But she usually feels this way about steakhouses. Also, she probably ate too much for lunch and wasn't hungry enough to really appreciate a steak dinner at 6:15 pm. There was nothing wrong with the steak, really, but the sauce it came with was too sweet and just not very interesting. Also, Kristin got a side order of sauteed wild forest mushrooms, and they mixed those with the same boring sauce, so they might as well have been more of the white button mushrooms that already came with the steak (except those stood up better to the bold flavor of the sauce). The steakhouse does have killer cocktails, though! (And Donald liked his steak just fine.)

We hope we can attend the 2018 Realm Makers Conference; in the meantime, we're thrilled that a bunch of other Realm Makers people are going to be at World Fantasy this fall, in San Antonio (there are still World Fantasy memberships available, currently selling for $275, so if you're a Realmie who doesn't want to wait until 2018 for your next speculative fiction fix ... you can see who's already signed up here).

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