Live Blogging Realm Makers Conference: Keynote Speaker Tosca Lee

What an amazing day I’ve had at Realm Maker’s conference today! This morning’s Keynote Speaker was best-selling author, Tosca Lee. If you’ve never read any of her books, I highly recommend you do. Her style and voice are unique and powerful. As I wrote before, she has a voice akin to liquid velvet. I can’t get enough of her. Did you know that she cut her eyeteeth in the writing realm with online gaming? Who’d have thunk it? But it makes sense to me now. She spent hours and hours creating a character and a world playing a role playing game. In fact, the character she developed and eventually “killed” has a fandom! People to this day write poems and tributes to this character. Now, I’m not into role playing games. I’ve never “got” that lifestyle. In fact, I’ve protected myself from that sort of fantasy life because I didn’t understand it, feared it, and was concerned that with my personality I’d become addicted to it. But as it turns out, lovely Tosca was once the Overlord of a gaming community that still holds tournaments in her character’s honor. Talk about creating a powerful character! This character was so real to those playing this game that they mourned her and continue to this day to honor her. Wow. Can I create characters like that? Can you? Following Tosca’s keynote address, I attended a workshop entitled “Touching Evil: Reflections on Writing Villains and their Villainy.” The take-away for me was when he said that the villain is the measuring stick for the hero. Excellent stuff! This afternoon Steve Laube spoke about the ins and outs of being represented by an agent. Jeff Gerke presented a workshop on “The So-Called Rules of So-Called Fiction and what to So-Called do with Them.” As always Jeff was engaging and funny. Lisa Walker England taught on Steampunk, which is the reason I’m here as I have several steampunk novels running through my head. Doesn’t she look great in her costume? (She’s pictured below with Ben Wolf.)  The last presenter before the evening awards banquet was Kat Heckenbach who spoke on writing YA. The banquet tonight was attended by various unique and special guests:       The Clive Staples Award for the best in Christian Speculative Fiction this past year went to Patrick W. Carr for A Cast of Stones! The Parable Award for best-designed cover on a speculative fiction book directed to the Christian or family-friendly market went to Numb by John W. Otte. The food was delicious and my brain is just as full as my stomach. I’ve learned a lot today and can hardly wait until tomorrow morning to start all...

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Live blogging from Realm Makers Conference with BREAKING NEWS!

I’m in Radnor, PA for the Realm Makers Conference! I am a slightly surprised to find myself here but there’s a nagging in my heart to learn how to write compelling YA, specifically in the Steampunk vein. I’m not really sure what to expect, but so far things are good. On my drive to Pennsylvania there was a rainbow! That’s a good sign, right? It took me two days to drive here from Indiana. Today before I checked into the conference I stopped at a mall in King of Prussia, PA, and had lunch at Ruby’s Diner. The clam chowder was so scrumptious I was tempted to order another cup! I sat in the diner and worked on my work in progress. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I can write pretty well in a diner environment. I need to try it again. Although, there aren’t any diners in my neck of the woods. Certainly not ones that have such great decor. I was wishing my guys were with me to enjoy such pretty bikes! The conference is on Villanova University’s campus. The college has beautiful old stone buildings and we’re staying in dorms. The dorm I’m in is actually an apartment. I have the entire thing to myself but there’s enough room for 4 people.                          Tonight as I type this I’m at the Splickety Magazine Critique Party. On the panel critiquing the first few pages of novels submitted and chosen before the conference are Tosca Lee, Jeff Gerke, Steve Laube and Avily Jerome. I’m so excited to hear Tosca Lee speak in the morning! I love her books. She has the sort of writing voice I love. Like liquid velvet. I’ll post again tomorrow (hopefully I’ll have some time to sneak in here to share with you) and let you know all I’m learning. Tonight the panel seems to be in unison regarding that first hook in the first few pages of a book. Lovely writing might be beautiful, but will it keep a reader’s attention? If you want to be published, you need to learn to write what sells. But if you want to write for your own pleasure, then write what you want! Tonight Steve Laube announced the new name of his publishing company (formerly Marcher Lord Press): Enclave Publishing! You heard it here first! Steve Laube making the announcement: Tons of excitement tonight! I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Click to tweet: Live blogging from Realm Makers Conference! Click to tweet: Steve Laube announces Marcher Lord Press now Enclave...

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Erica says goodbye and we wish her well

(This is my intern, Erica Graphman’s last blog post. I’ve really enjoyed working with this brilliant young woman and wish her great success in her studies and chosen career!) As the semester draws to a close and I scramble with final papers, final exams, and packing up my dorm room, I like to reflect on the school year, which happened to go by extremely quickly this time around. I learned a lot, took classes I loved and classes I didn’t love nearly as much. Most importantly to me, I had fun being with my friends, creating a magazine, and starting my very first internship with Karla. I have really enjoyed working with Karla and have learned a lot from her. I never had the courage to blog before because I felt like I had nothing to say and I wasn’t sure how to say it. Karla taught me the techniques of blogging, gave me brilliant feedback on my writing, and showed me how to set up my own blog. On top of finding the courage to blog, Karla has also taught me a lot about social media networking, which I now really enjoy and hope to continue building skills in. I was a little nervous setting up my blog, The Slanted Shelf, on Blogger, but now I’m glad I have it. I hope to continue blogging even though my work with Karla is complete. I might shift my angle a little more towards reviewing the books I read, since I have a giant list to read this summer. And I’m hoping that if I continue to use my blog for that, I’ll be able to build on my critical reading skills. If I can’t do that, at least I’ll have fun writing about reading. Blogging has been a lot more fun than I really expected it to be because of the great responses I received so many people. Thank you, Karla, for all you have taught me. Thank you everyone for helping me build my confidence as a writer. Karla: Erica, it’s been a true pleasure working with you. You have a lot more talent than you give yourself credit for. Write on, young scribe! You’ve got greatness in you! Tweet this: Join me in wishing my intern great...

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Character Mapping

The first book I bought when I got serious about writing novels was Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. (I highly recommend both the book and the workbook together.) It was this book that taught me how to create a character map. If you’re new to creating characters and story lines, I highly recommend this. You’ll be surprised how many different ways you can connect your characters and it makes their back stories come to life almost on their own. When I used this method for my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, it revealed a twist and surprise at the end. Here’s an example of a character map based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. And here’s one for Shakespeare’s Othello: Sometimes your characters may not have very many interactions or relationships with one another. In my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, the setting was a small, close-knit community. A lot of the people were related and had grown up together for years. So the map looked like a maze much like the one for Pride and Prejudice. But in my current work in progress, the characters come together on a steamboat from different parts of the country and interact with passengers on the boat who are strangers to them. So there aren’t as many mysterious cousin-type relationships. If you’re stuck on a story, try using the character map. I promise it will get you unstuck and spark some exciting new ideas. Tweet this: Stuck on your manuscript? Draw a character...

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Introducing Steampunk author Michael Vetter and a giveaway!

I am very pleased to introduce you to Steampunk/Sci-fi author, Michael Vetter. I became intrigued with Michael’s work after meeting him on a Steampunk forum. I’m fascinated with this genre and have been researching it for a book I’m formulating for the YA market. I’m also leaving next Tuesday to attend the Realm Makers conference in Pennsylvania! I’m looking forward to rubbing shoulders with fantasy genre authors as I have much to learn. I have a burden to write YA books that point young people to Christ. It’s much needed. Which is what drew me to Michael’s work. Michael very graciously agreed to be interviewed for my blog. I think you’ll find him and his work fascinating! (By the way, dear reader, if you leave a comment or question and tweet about this post (I’ve provided a handy dandy link below as well) you’ll be entered to win a free digital (.pdf) copy of one of his books — your choice!  If you use any of the other buttons, you’ll be entered each time you promote this post on social media. What a deal!) Thanks so much, Michael, for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself: My father worked for Pan America Airways so I grew up around airplanes and airports in Latin America all my life.  When I went to college in the U.S. I studied engineering, met my wife, Mary, and joined the Air Force. While stationed in Florida, we heard the Gospel for the first time and, after months of questions and resistance, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. We grew spiritually through the years, served in many capacities at Salem Bible Church (www.salembible.org) while I worked in the defense industry, and recently retired. My wife and I have a grown son, two grandsons, and are involved in several ministries. Besides teaching adult Bible Sunday School and writing novels, I edit a newsletter for Grace Dental and Medical Missions (www.gdmmissions.org) and am a translator on medical missions trips to Spanish-speaking countries. We live in Salem,  NH, where the one month of brilliant fall foliage makes up for long winters of snow and cold. We enjoy long road and rail trips together and kayaking in the summer. What a fascinating journey to this point in your life you’ve had! I long to take a rail trip sometime, too. How can we find you online? Web page:  http://www.michaelvetter.net Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/ChristianAdventuresBibleThemes?ref=hl Where do you write? (What’s your office like?) My best creative writing is done where I’m free from distractions so that means not in my cluttered office! My home office is where I have access to my reference books for research and Bible studies. Libraries...

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