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Zippy’s First Conference

There’s no such thing as a free conference. Gretchen stayed up too late Nerf warring, so she made me write her blog post, not that I minded. Realm Makers 2016 was my first writing conference.

It’s a good thing my species doesn’t require much sleep because Vlad, I mean Gretchen, is a vampire. I swear that girl doesn’t sleep. We got up early and took a shuttle to Phoenix Tuesday morning. We got there at lunch time and had about nine hours in the airport. Gretchen was generous to Rosie and me. She shared her Smashburger and Smash fries. Even splitting it three ways; we were all stuffed. We passed the time walking laps around Terminal 4. Gretchen didn’t catch any Pokemon. 

We arrived in Philadephia and met up with four other conferees, three humans and one Lego Stormtrooper. We took subways and walked around. We had lunch in Reading Market. Yum crepes. We saw the Liberty Bell and outside of Independence Hall. By then, it was time to collect a couple of other humans and head to campus.


We checked in and met up with even more humans. We went out for dinner. Gretchen had a cheesesteak and fries. However, she neglected to give me even the smallest taste even though I was the one who taught her how to order. “Provolone with”.

Rosie and I slept in, but Gretchen, the borderline insane person, got up and ran then helped out and greeted people as they arrived. She’s one of the maybe dozen extroverts, and she’s quite the talker.

We listened to Suzy Q’s Early Bird Presentation on branding. This was one of the highlights. Gretchen liked it because she learned a lot. I liked it because I didn’t have to sneak out in my shellship and attend in secret. Then there was the Splickety Magazine kickoff and Havok after party. I got to meet Wombatman and Yridessa. Gretchen needs to up her game. They’ve got a good publicity team. Instagram presence and YouTube videos. I also met Wishful a sweet unicorn. We had a civil discussion on science fiction and fantasy. In the end, we agree our common purpose, bringing the world quality stories, is far more important than our differences.

Friday was the first full day. Gretchen doesn’t know this, but I used my shellship and hovered in the back of each session. I feel bad that she didn’t have that flexibility in her schedule. Gretchen had appointments and classes to attend. She even moderated a panel on science fiction.

I’m sorry, but she needs to check her privilege. Gretchen’s panel didn’t have a single question regarding non-human species. As a member of the extraterrestrial reptilian community, I’m offended she didn’t address species diversity.

The other sessions were fantastic including our keynote speaker, faculty, the other panelists, and moderators.

The costume gala was HUGE! Rosie and I had a date night. We even got our picture taken with the Area 51 sign. It seems like yesterday when we landed in New Mexico with nothing but the shellships on our backs. Gretchen was Kyan, the main character from her story “Undermined”, which is featured in the Realmscapes anthology.

Lembas Bread!

Saturday, Gretchen had another appointment and attended more fantastic sessions. Once again, I slipped out and caught bits of every session including the closing with the big fifth anniversary announcement. We’re going to Reno next year!

After the closing session was the fight dome workshop. That was one of my favorites. I was glad Rosie snuck out and caught it too. I feel better that she learned ways to defend herself.

Gretchen packed and Nerf warred while Rosie and I slept. Now it’s back to the grind where I commute from eastern Arizona to the Very Large Array (VLA) station for my job as an alien language translator. Counting the days until Realm Makers 2017!

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About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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