Realm Makers 2019 // the play-by-play no one asked for

August 04, 2019

Happy Sunday!

So, as I mentioned in my July wrap-up, I went to Realm Makers this year! *confetti* And, of course, here is the obligatory Mega-Long Wrap-Up Post That Will Take Five Thousand Years to Read. :)

I mean, I might as well begin.

Okay, so just a couple things I want to say before we jump into this:

1. If you weren't at Realm Makers, that's okay! Seriously. RM is not the be-all, end-all, you-must-go-to-be-cool of the blogging world. And I'm not writing this to make anyone feel bad that they couldn't make it. In fact, I actually am writing this to make you feel like you were actually there.

2. This post is REALLY long and detailed. XD Just a warning.

All right, with those out of the way, let's begin!

So, my family and I woke up bright and early Thursday morning (5 AM) to leave. It didn't feel real to me that I was actually DOING THIS.

I procrastinated thinking about RM on the drive up because #socialanxiety, which included listening to my RM playlist. If you want to listen, you can find it here:

It was hard to believe that RM was happening until we got off the Interstate and drove through the area where the conference would be held. And then I got REALLY nervous.
It probably didn't help that Spotify was playing two intense Lindsey Stirling songs. . . .

While sitting in the parking lot right outside the Sheraton Westport hotel, I thought I saw Julian. Which kind of led to a freakout session. (I don't think it was actually her, but the resemblance was really close. XD)

Anyways, Mom and I finally entered the conference, and we registered. (Shout-out to her for attending the ENTIRE THING with me. You're the best. :) )

Then we got our nametags. I was busy trying to figure out how to string the thing around my neck when -


And, thirty seconds later, SAVANNAH GRACE FOLLOWED.

I think that was when my hands started to shake.

Okay, so confession time: these two, along with most of the other people I met at RM, are pretty much my celebrities. They're the ones I've been reading for over a year and a half now, the ones that introduced me to blogging seriously. Savannah's blog was actually the SECOND BLOG I ever discovered.

So to say that I was freaking out was an understatement.

And, because of #socialanxiety, I didn't go and introduce myself to them, even though they were literally four feet away from me the entire time. I was too nervous.

So if you go to Realm Makers, I would advise you to not be afraid. You will end up regretting it. Trust me, people will not murder you if you talk to them. XD

After registration, I headed to the pre-conference session, which covered book series - how to write and market them, specifically. Savannah and Tracey's table was full, so I sat with a girl named Jenneth who said she liked my Lunar Chronicles T-shirt. (At the table was also a girl named Ellyn, but I never got her contact info, and I don't think I talked to her for the rest of the conference. TOO LITTLE TIME, GUYS.)

Two things I took away from the pre-conference:
  1. It's not the idea, it's the execution.
  2. Put your best ideas down now.
And I actually had lunch with Mr. Liparulo (the speaker), his friend, Jenneth, and my mom at - you guessed it - the infamous Fuzzy's Taco Place.

So, this is where I confess that I don't like tacos. Or Mexican food.

*waits for the mobs*

So . . . yes, I wasn't really a fan of Fuzzy's. *cringes* Savannah, don't kill me. XD

But I still liked going to it once. It was fun listening to Jenneth and Mr. Liparulo talk. Aaaaaaand we were almost late to part 2 of that session. XD (You're not late if you're with the leader, riiiiight?)

Anyways, the session ended up going long. By almost forty minutes.We got to the marketing aspect ten minutes before the class was supposed to be over, so it felt like forever before it was done.

I said goodbye to Ellyn and Jenneth and resolved to ACTUALLY work up the courage to say hi to the people I knew.

When I left the conference room, I noticed that there was a huge crowd of people hanging out in the lobby.

It took me two seconds to realize: holy cow, I KNOW those people. 

So I ALMOST freaked out, but steeled myself, walked up to Savannah Grace, and said my first words to any blogger at the conference - actually, any blogger EVER. (brace yourself, they are profound):

"Savannah, when did you cut your hair?"

Yeah. Not my proudest quote ever. XD

BUT! If I hadn't initiated that conversation, I wouldn't have talked to her or any other bloggers for who knows how long.

Anyways, I was introduced to several people, including Hanna Rothfuss!

And then, right as everyone was beginning to split into different conversation groups, I saw a familiar face approach the group. And it was Faith. Thompson.

Yes, that's right. FAITH, the FOURTH BLOGGER I ever discovered, had arrived (after a two-hour delay with her plane trip).

That following hug was amazing, let me tell you.

And then halfway down the hall, we met up with Skye and Angela (and Angela and I recognized each other about three seconds after we were introduced XD) - and I think I saw Sarah, Julian, and Evan in there somewhere - and we all headed downstairs for the keynote speech and RM opening.

Oh yeah, and when I saw that JAYE L. KNIGHT was there, I kind of had to hide because HOLY COW WHAT IS THIS.

But I digress.

The opening ceremony (especially the keynote speaker, Brent Weeks) was excellent! Here are a few quotes from the keynote speaker:
  • "Actually, the first person I sent [the manuscript] to was dead."
  • When Brent was talking about how he wrote a series about a moral assassin, Faith leaned over and whispered to me, "So like Throne of Glass, but good," and I DIED laughing in the middle of the serious speech. (Seriously, Faith does some AMAZING side commentary. It's hysterical.)

After the keynote speech, it was time for supper! To my relief, we did NOT go to Fuzzy's, but we did stop at the St. Louis Bread Company/Panera Bread. While I didn't sit particularly close to any blogger friends, I DID sit next to a wonderful person named Denika, who I had an awesome conversation with.

Photo credit to Christine! You can't see me, but you can see everyone else. XD

The incredible Mary! (also, we all marveled at how pretty her hair was throughout the conference <3)

I had to leave Panera a little early, because of the Orientation (which I like to call Newbie Session XD). Faith, Hanna, Savannah (who came although this was her second year) and I all sat together, and it was probably the most EPIC seating arrangement I've been included in for my entire life (although I think Saturday tops that - and I'll get to that eventually).

Savannah, Hanna, Faith, and yours truly!

Then came the Agent & Editor Q&A, which was super funny and enlightening! Some memorable quotes:

*room full of introverts* Announcer: Who wants the mic?

"How does someone become part of the editing, dream-crushing side of the spectrum? - random guy
"Become a cyborg." - Steve Laube

A few of us ended up skipping the next Sponsor Spotlight events and bought books (and I finally bought The Girl Who Could See!). During this, I met the lovely Jenna, who has the BEST assortment of T-shirts, and Brie from my Camp NaNo cabin!

Brie, me, and Faith!

And then Faith convinced me to go to the launch party for Lindsey Franklin's The Story Raider. It was while waiting in the Hospitality Suite for the launch party that we had an amazing conversation about Faith's story and characters, and specifically how she would murder Nicki. XD We also had this delightful piece of dialogue:

Faith: I ended up not killing that character. So now I can almost kill him.
Me: Put him in a coma.
Faith: I already did that.

I also met Kara Swanson up there, and I got The Girl Who Could See signed!!!

But after that, I kid you not, it got SO crowded in that room. It clearly wasn't meant for many people. Coincidentally, that was when my mom texted me that it was time to go, so I ended up leaving the launch party before it started.

It worked out fine, though. XD

GUYS. I'M FIREBENDING. HONOOOOOORR *runs off screaming about the Avatar*

Are you guys still with me? If so, that's AMAZING. Because these days just keep getting longer. XD

My family didn't stay at the hotel that hosted RM, so early Friday morning, Mom and I had to walk outside in scorching St. Louis weather. Yay.

Once I found all the others, we trekked downstairs to the opening announcements, which were actually hilarious. The faculty did a skit with Captain America and Captain Marvel, and although I thiiiiink they exaggerated Captain America's ego a bit too much (#TeamCap) it was still amazing.

Next up was Teen Track with Bryan Davis. I was there with Faith, Angela, and Millie Florence! This first session covered the basics of the Hero's Journey and how to write good beginnings.

This is where I realized that all my beginnings are literal trash. But it's fine.

After that was Don't Preach by Morgan Busse (!!!), which I left early on for my mentor appointment. ;)

The next session (which took place after lunch) was one I was particularly excited about: Cinderella 2.0 by C.J. Redwine, which dealt with fairytale retellings. It was SO HELPFUL.

Also I sat next to Sarah and Julian and actually talked to them for the first time during the conference.

Members of the #CiscoRamon4Life club unite! ;)

After class, I sidled up to Tracey and asked her to sign my copy of her story in the Havok anthology. I kind of died from the AWESOMENESS that I actually KNEW PEOPLE in that book!

Then it was off to the second part of Teen Track.

Guys. This got INTENSE. It was really overwhelming. (To those of you who were there: motivation/reaction.)

But we DID get these quotables:

Mr. Davis: If the character sees it, the reader sees it.
Faith: Unless it's Nielson . . .

Mr. Davis: One student described someone like this, "His teeth were so yellow he used his spit to butter his popcorn."

I was supposed to go back to my hotel to change, but Faith and I ended up talking in the lobby for an exceedingly long time. And before long, we got Christine (!!!) to sign our copies of the Havok Anthology.

At one point while I was waiting for Christine to finish, I happened to look at the nametag of the girl who was standing in the little group. And it was KATIE HANNA.

So we both kind of screamed when we found out who we were. (well, very quiet screaming)

Katie and me!

But eventually Mom got impatient, and I headed back to the hotel to prep for my costume: Luna Lovegood (except my role-play was horrible that night, so I also went as Random Ravenclaw Student XD).

And now it is time to describe quite possibly one of the best parts of RM: the Costume Dinner.

I'm not going to write too much about it - I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Faith as her namesake, Florid Sword, and Hanna!

Savannah doing a mean Agent Carter roleplay! <3 

Faith and Julian 

Did I mention that Julian actually played the mandolin while we were there, and she and Faith played the piano together? #mylifeiscomplete 

Skye as Blue from the Raven Cycle (!!!) 

Me and Katie - oh, I'm sorry, I meant Jane Austen ;) 


Christine's amazing roleplay!

I met Victoria!!! 


It was a really incredible night (although at one point I got way too excited and almost hit a waiter. *cringes* SORRY!!)

And I also heard a writer say "that dessert thing" so . . . yeah. XD

Day 3 was one of the best days of RM overall. (I mean, you know it's good when you walk into the building and Skye's wearing a Loki t-shirt. XD)

Look out, Brent Weeks, Savannah's coming ;)

The skit for the announcements was detective-themed and pretty great (although, in my personal opinion, not as good as the Marvel one).

Right after the announcements came the Q&A with Terry Brooks and Brent Weeks. Let me tell you, those two are HYSTERICAL. For example:

Question: What should we do if we get a TV show or a movie deal with our books?
Terry Brooks: Cash the check.

Oh, I'm the only one laughing?? . . . . okay.

The next session was the final segment of the Teen Track series. Um, this is kind of where I lost it.

My emotions had been running sky-high throughout the entire conference - I think everyone's were. And, I'll own up to it now, I get VERY emotional over character deaths, even ones that I really don't know or don't care about.

For those of you who have seen the Les Miserables movie (or even the musical, I don't know), you know how it ends.

Yeah . . . so we watched THAT scene in the session. Aaaaaaannnnd I started crying. And then the people at my table noticed, which might have helped, except the scene kept playing. XD

(Faith - I'm so sorry.)

You can clearly tell in my notes where I lost it. XD

And then the class subject turned to ending your story, and I maaaayyyyy have written the last word of Faith's novel on my packet of notes and showed her. (#sorrynotsorry That was a good ending, okay????)

The amazing Teen Track girls!

Ahem. Anyways.

So next was my mentor appointment with Andrew Winch, the head editor of Havok. It was super helpful, and I've written some interesting flash fiction since that appointment. XD

My whole family went to lunch with me, which was AWESOME. We got back just in time for Jill Williamson's Worldbuilding Class, which I SO needed, because my worldbuilding skills are trash. :)

"Isn't it fun to write books, you guys?" -Jill Williamson, after discussing how one of her books has a city falling into a sinkhole.

The Managing Anxiety class was right after, and although I can't say that I suffer from bad anxiety or depression or anything like that, I did find it really helpful. :)

After that, it was on to the bookstore once again! I ALMOST didn't get a copy of the Story Peddler, but by sheer luck, a random guy set down a copy that he had been perusing, and I . . . mayyyy have taken it and skedaddled to the checkout line.

Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The ending keynote was really powerful. Brent Weeks talked about how our art isn't the most important thing in our lives, and I think that message was the perfect way to end the RM sessions.

Of course, supper was a priority after the ending keynote. Christine, Madeline, Millie, Faith, a few others and I all went back to Panera, where we had an AWESOME conversation about everything and nothing at the same time. (Savannah, Tracey, and the other Havok people joined us about halfway through.)

And honestly, this is probably tied with the Costume Party as being my favorite memory from RM. Nothing particularly special happened at that Panera table (although I'm sure the workers were glad when we left XD), but at one point I looked down the table and realized that I would probably never have another moment like this again.

I'm smiling just thinking about that time. <3

(Also, apparently Faith ordered "one no side", so there's that. XD)

Photo credit Jenneth. The whole gang!

Just a random shot. XD

To round out the event list for Saturday, the Bookstore Festival opened at 7! I got pretty much all my books signed (except the ones from Terry Brooks) and ended up just sitting at a table talking to Faith, Mary, Savannah, and Hanna.

(I also started to get really tired and finally pulled out my stash of Hershey's. Chocolate saved my life, guys.)

Faith, Mary, Savannah, me, and Hanna! (You guys are the BEST.)

Finally, at about 10, Savannah decided that she was getting tired, and we all kind of followed her upstairs. However, our goodnights were interrupted when we met Christine and Elisabeth and a few others, I think???? I don't really remember. Anyways, we talked there for another thirty or so minutes before my mom called me away.

Some interesting quotes, although I don't remember exactly who said them:

"Thinking is overrated."

"And then the missionaries took over the world."

That night was kind of bittersweet, as I had to say goodbye to Skye (Skye, I hope you survived your early-morning plane flight!), Julian, Sarah, and Evan. :(
Me and Skye! 

Me, Julian, and Faith <3

And if you want to talk about bittersweet days, this was IT.

I left my hotel super early so I could say goodbye to the others. Aaaaaand I got there really early and ended up sitting there awkwardly for about thirty minutes. XD

But eventually people started trickling in. Faith came in with the BEST OUTFIT EVER:

At about 9:30, though, people started leaving - either for planes or to the Post-Conference Session.

And I discovered something.

Those goodbyes . . . weren't as hard as I thought they would be. And I don't mean that I didn't care that they were leaving. It's just that I talk with them online, and I see them online. And I still haven't felt that they've left yet. XD

I'm going to end this post with a few song lyrics (from For Good) that I had going through my mind at the time. And this is what I wish I could have said to you guys, whether I met you at RM or not. . . .

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you.

. . . .

Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

Love you guys. Miss you guys. And if you weren't at RM, I WANT TO MEET YOU SOMEDAY.

But, until our next meeting . . .

-Nicole <3

If you guys made it through this monster of a post, congratulations! *showers chocolate upon you* 

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  1. AGHHHHHH THIS POST *bawls my eyes out* You and I were clearly the Official Dynamic Duo of Realm Makers and it was fantastic. I love you so much, girl *huge hugs*

    Also, you didn't SHOW that word to me. More like you aggressively scribbled it down and shoved it at me while smirking. There was nothing passive about that action. *cackles* I AM NOT SORRY

    That song...Excuse me while I go cry in a corner because AGGHHHH WICKED <3 :'(

    I'm so glad we both got to go to RM and meet each other and it truly was the most amazing time and ahhhhhhhh we HAVE to see each other again. <333

    1. AAAGHHH THIS COMMENT *is crying with you* Yes, we totally were!! *hugs hard* Love you too!

      *cough* *cough* not EXACTLY how I remembered it . . . ;) you're welcome

      I THOUGHT you would recognize it XD XD

      Oh my goodness, same - we HAVE to meet up again. (I mean, are you going to the March for Life this year? XD)




    It looks like everyone had a lot of fun. Totally wish I could have been there. my social anxiety would have killed me, I think. xD

    Looks super fun! Thanks for sharing everything! I love your post!

    1. OH MY GOODNESS, YAY!! *gives you chocolate*

      YES, SHE IS AND SHE IS AMAZING!! I so hope you get to meet her one day!

      HI IVIE!!! *waves*

      Hahaha, yeah, mine almost got me, I will admit. But after the first day, it gets better, I promise. <3

      Thanks, Ivie! I so hope you can go one day! (and tell us when you do go so I can schedule appropriately ;) )

  3. *raises hand* I wanted a play by play!

    I did survive my flight, just barely. XD
    I froze up when I first saw people. Glad I'm not the only one.
    I'm so glad we got to meet, you are so sweet and amazing! Glad we got to hang out at the banquet. Still freaking out about your costume it was so perfect!
    So happy that you went. <3

    1. Yay! (I’m so glad that at least one person is fine with the super-long post. XD)

      Oh, thank goodness I wasn’t the only one!
      Same to you - you're so kind and fun to be around! And your costume was incredible too! <3
      And same - I’m so happy we met! :)

  4. Wow, this looks totally awesome!! I'm so glad you had a great time! (Also it's really cool to see the faces behind all my favorite blogs).

    1. It definitely was! (If you get a chance, you should go!)

      (And yes, it is! I was dying the whole time. XD)

  5. Ooh, so fun! Wish I coulda made it to RM, but like I’m broke and I don’t really travel to meet Internet frens lol. But I’m SO GLAD YOU HAD AN AMAZING TIME. <3

    1. Haha, true, we writers definitely are not rolling in the dough. XD But THANK YOU! <3 (And I hope we can meet sometime! That would be amazing!)

  6. This post... *wipes tear* I love how detailed it was - I did sorta feel like I was there!! Amazing. <333

    1. *gives you tissue* Aw, thank you Lila! I’m glad you liked it! (I hope one day you can go and meet EVERYONE.) <333

    It looks absolutely fantastic and i loved reading your play by play of all the days I felt like I was theree :'((
    MARY'S COSTUME wow wow wow *applause* and ofc i already told you that your costume was amazing but I'll say it again your costume was amazing 😂🙌
    all the bookish tshirts omw I love it sm- i need a picture of your lunar chronicles shirt pretty please?
    I'm so glad you got to go :DDD what a fantabulous time

      Ack, oh my goodness, thank you! That was what I was aiming to do. XD
      I KNOW, RIGHT? *joins applause* And thank you! *bows* Amazon can do wonders, what can I say? XD
      . . . . I’ll try to slip it into a blog post one of these days! ;)
      It was really fun! :)
      OH MY GOODNESS YOU LISTEN TO WICKED TOO??? <333 What’s your favorite song?

  8. AH, I LOVE THIS POOOOST!!! I love the ALL the details! ;D It was awesome being able to meet you in person, Nicole! *fist bump*

    1. AAAAAAHHH, THANKS, JENNA! It was amazing meeting you too!! *fist-bumps back*

  9. Oh my goodness, this post was SO fun...I LOVE all the details!! So glad you had such a wonderful time at Realm Makers, Nicole! <3 <3 <3 I really need to go someday.

    (also, I NEED Faith's WALL-E t-shirt XD)

    1. Yay, I’m glad you enjoyed it, Ash! <3 <3 <3 (You totally should, if you get the chance!)

      (Okay, so you get the t-shirt, I get the hat, and everyone’s happy XD)

  10. Love to hear about Ream Makers! Sounds awesome!
    I understand not being sure how to go up and talk to people. ;)

    1. It was a really good time! :)
      Haha, yeah, that part was a little awkward, but I’m glad it turned out okay. :)

  11. I thought I commented already, but apparently I just bawled over this post and forgot to?

    My little group was kind of with you on not being as fond of Fuzzy's as everyone else seemed to be. We actually preferred the Gyro place across from it. That was really good!

    I was so happy that you sat with us during Cinderella! I was a bit unsure about going up to people the whole time. I'm actually pretty good with faces and names, but most people I know aren't, so I'm always worried that I'll be like "HEY, *insert name*! How's your cat doing?!" and they'll be like "I don't even know who you are."

    But alas, Team #ciscoramon4life didn't get as much time to geek out over his epicness as would have been preferred *Sobs* Even though I don't watch the show anymore, I still laugh everything I think of him!

    Will you be able to go next year? I hope you are!

    1. Haha, you’re fine! (It’s SO HARD for me to remember to comment nowadays. XD)

      Oh, thank goodness, I wasn’t the only one! I didn’t try the Gyro place . . . If it’s held in St. Louis and we all go again, maybe I’ll tag along there with you guys!

      Ack, I was so glad you guys were there! Haha, same - and I don’t have many pictures of my face online, so I shared the same worry. XD

      ‘Tis true, it was a pity . . . *silent tear* Yeah, I stopped after season 3, but he’s the reason I want to rewatch the series!

      *shrugs* I mean, it’s pretty unlikely, but I won’t say “no.” XD (And I mean, FaceTime is a great invention, so . . . XD)

  12. Nicole, I absolutely love that you were Luna Lovegood!! She is my favorite character of the whole series!! Oh dear, they made you watch the end of Les Mis *hands you tissues* That's rough. Anyway, I'm so happy that you had a great time!!!

    1. Oh my goodness, same!! And thank you! (Amazon has EVERYTHING, let me tell you. XD) *gratefully accepts tissues* Yes, it was. XD Haha, thanks, Clare! <3




    Okay, so apparently I wasn't following your blog somehow and just???? NOT OKAY. But I have remedied this tragedy now!

    AND THIS POST. I feel like I got to relive the goodness all over again. :') And oh my gracious, it was SUCH a joy meeting you! You are a ray of sunshine in this world.

    Okay, but that moment in the corner of the lobby when we were all talking and NOT putting on our costumes like we should have been was one of my faaaaves. AND our last meal together with the whole gang at Panera. YES YES YES. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was realizing how special those moments were. UGH. It makes me emotional just thinking of it! And those lyrics you shared are not helping me get any less emotional! D': D': D':

    I JUST LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! So very very very very happy you got to come and we got to meet. I'll cherish it forever! <333

    1. CHRISTIIIIIIIIIINE HI HI HI HI!!!! *tackle-hugs* WELCOME!!! *chocolate party*

      THANK YOU!!!! It was absolutely INCREDIBLE to get to meet you as well! Your smile just lit up the entire room. <33

      Oh my, goodness, yesssss, that was an awesome time! ACK YES THAT WAS AMAZING. Same, I’m grinning so hard right now! XD XD I feel you . . . . It was a very emotional time. :)

      SAME TO YOU!!!! <33 And so will I! I will never forget that time! <333


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