Brain Dead or Realm Makers 2018 recap

Following close on the heels of my “What I’ve learned from Realm Makers” series was my time spent at Realm Makers 2018. I know I talk about this conference a lot, but this is my second family. These people get me, and not just “they’re nerds and like Star Wars.” They get my struggles, my fear, my victories, and my passion. Starting with the drive to the conference, and going through each keynote, mentor session, workshop, and life chat it was clear that God had a key lesson for me to take home.

I decided early on to be ready for conversations, and this year was going to be about direction. I didn’t expect to have my hind-end so thoroughly kicked even before the conference started. The start of my week began while listening to the Writing Excuses podcast. This particular episode dove into fear, and why writers don’t write. #smackmeintheface One thing they talked about resonated with some of my own fear, and that theme kept rolling like a bad analogy at a concert.

During the pre-conference workshop, NYT bestselling author, Tosca Lee, dove into our psyche and made us ask “What is your secret fear?” She then said, I know you didn’t write down the real reason, so what is your second secret fear? Dozens of similar questions later and my little notebook now holds a couple pieces of my soul. The purpose of the exercise was to see how deep we need to know our characters, but also to explore what makes us tick and forcing our guts onto the page.


Encouragements to push fear aside didn’t stop there, Mary Weber – author of the Shilo Snow duology – gave a gritty, from the heart talk about her own struggles with fear, with doubt, and how when she was ready to give it all up, God spoke. It was during Mary’s opening keynote that I heard God whisper my first big lesson from Realm Makers 2018: When you’re scared, when you doubt, when you don’t know what’s next, if life sucks and you’re ready to be done: Jesus First.

Those two words sum up a lot of my own personal journey for the last year. I’m a simple faith guy. Those two words say deep things to me. As a husband, dad to three, IT manager, youth group leader, son, brother, friend, and all the other things that sometimes feel like they’re pressing in, and I have no time for anything, these two words are now my response: Jesus first. When I can put Jesus first, everything else falls into place.

I continued the conference with three great mentor appointments and hammered out some details on two different WIPs, and discovered that I’m very much so a plot-first guy. My characters need some help!

A couple other quick highlights were having my buddy Jason not only SIGN HIS BOOK FOR ME HEY GO BUY IT HERE, but I was able to bring him to meet my family and see where I live and the ministry that I’m a part of. I met lots of new faces, and had some great conversations with people who I’ve only known online. I can’t wait to have them all sign their future books for me! I was also invited to be on a live critique panel with indie author Will Wight, New York Times Best-selling author, Tosca Lee, and Splickety editor, Andrew Winch. It was definitely a highlight being able to meet so many of the talented young authors who have been sending stories in to the Splickety magazines.

This concept of Jesus first isn’t a new one. It’s kind of a primary tenant of Christianity. To be a disciple, you put down everything and follow your master. It seems in our current political, social, and global spheres, there’s so much self focus, and loads of fear. I’m going to stay Jesus first, even at my own expense. I hope you’ll come on this journey with me.

I know I have much more to say, but for some reason this year’s post-RM recovery hit me hard. A fellow extrovert likened it to being a solar battery and being overcharged, and full of life during the conference, only to come home and not be able to absorb all that people-energy. That kinda makes extroverts sound like vampires… So…. yeah.


For me, God often speaks through people to confirm an inner thought or deep concept. I’m so grateful for His voice, and for others to be so willing to speak through their own struggles, and share the gift of God. Were you at Realm Makers? What was your favorite take away? If you didn’t make it to STL this year, how’s your writing journey progressing? Do you struggle with fear (don’t we all?) – I’d love to hear from you, and help if I can! Drop a comment below, or find me on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. Until next week,


Go write something!


2 comments on “Brain Dead or Realm Makers 2018 recap

  1. I was both comforted and distressed to hear a seasoned writer say she struggles with self-doubt every time she sits down to write. She has made her living as a writer for decades. Yet, the dragon must still be slain each time.

    • Writing for your reader while convincing yourself that no one will ever read it is another fun author paradox.

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