Walking the Realm

Guest Blogger: Josh R Smith

I’ve returned from Realm Makers 2016, and have finally caught up on enough sleep to be mostly coherent. Realm Makers is a Christian writer’s conference that focuses on the speculative side of fiction. Speculative is just a swanky word for Fantasy and Science Fiction. This was my second year attending, and it did my soul well to be back among the Realm.

I averaged five hours of sleep each of the six nights on my journey. I also walked a total of forty-two miles over my trip. I arrived home exhausted and full of inspiration to do what God has called me to do. Rather than detailing the conference, I’d like to disclose my major takeaway and share a few of my favorite moments.

When I attended Realm Makers in 2015, I brought with me four of my trilogy concepts to see if anyone could help me with direction. I met with a few authors, editors, agents and publishers, and I found that all of my ideas had a good foundation, it was time for me to pick one and begin laying the groundwork. A single story rose to the surface, and I’ve spent the last twelve months refining and adding to my first novel’s concept.

This year my takeaway comes from opening keynote speaker, Thomas Locke. He has published over 70 books, and is currently Writer in Residence at Oxford University! This guy is big time, and on day one he asked if he could sit with me and my friends for dinner.

Grinning widely, our keynote speaker sat across from me and prompted us with questions about our favorite science fiction tales:

“Have you seen the latest Stark Trek movie?”

“Which do you like best: Star Wars, or Star Trek?”

“What do think about Rogue One?”

“Which was your favorite Star Wars book?”

The whole time we talked, Thomas was grinning ear-to-ear, eating up our enthusiasm and joy for these speculative worlds. After thirty minutes of this, he confided in us that “no one at Oxford wants to talk about Star Wars.” Talk about a challenging comparison.

JJ Johnson, Thomas Locke, Josh R Smith, and Jayson Joyner at Realm Makers 2016

JJ Johnson, Thomas Locke, Josh R Smith, and Jayson Joyner at Realm Makers 2016

During his keynote, Thomas dove into the concept of being disciplined in our craft. He shared several creative prompts like listening to a certain musical genre every time you write, and finding the time and space that best suits your creative clock. I’ll be honest, I’ve been more of a free spirit when it comes to writing, but the concept of discipline rang true to where I feel I should be.

I don’t always find the time to write every day. Most of the time its sporadic and not focused on just writing. My and I had been talking about exactly this just days before the conference. To hear discipline defined and revealed so plainly has given me practical steps to do what God has called me to do.

Have you ever attended a creative conference? This was my third one. Each time I’ve left with practical steps to move along my journey. I’m looking forward to the day when I have many stories written, but I’m also ready for the path ahead.

To quote Gandalf the Grey through the writing of J.R. Tolkien:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I invite you along my journey. Maybe you’ll find something to bring light to your next step.


Josh R SmithJosh R Smith lives in rural Northeast Missouri with his wife and two children. He works as an IT technician by day, and is active in his local church. Josh wrote his first fantasy story in grade school, and has been creating speculative worlds ever since. Josh has recently been published several times in Splickety magazine. He even took first place in their Lost at Sea contest. Josh is currently exploring the world of publication and is working on his first full length novel. You can find more information on Josh and the stories he writes at ww.joshthewriter.com


4 comments on “Walking the Realm

  1. “No one at Oxford wants to talk about Star Wars.” That makes me sad. I’m glad we were able to provide a geeky haven for our keynoter.

  2. That is awesome. I’m glad you had such a cool experience. During the second Realm Makers Tosca Lee sat with me and my Roommate during the banquet. It was amazing.

  3. […] probably already know Josh, since he’s been an active participant for years. He’s also guest blogged for NAF. We’re excited to have him on the team. He’ll be blogging on Tuesdays starting January […]

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