Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Making a New Realm: My Thoughts on the Realm Makers Conference, 2014 Blog Hop

I've really been struggling lately with this labeling thing. The Christian this and Christian that. I am totally okay with what is commonly referred to as "sanitized" fiction/movies/music being available for people who like that. I don't care if they want their own aisles in the bookstores, or their own awards. What I'm starting to get sick of, though, is the idea that one must choose which box to be in. "Christian" or "secular"...with the implication that one is "clean" and the other "dirty."

There is so much clean, wholesome fiction out there that doesn't address Christianity or faith at all, and it kinda only gets a polite nod from "Christian fiction" advocates, a "nice try, but where is GOD??" Or, on the Christian side, if you do include God but also include a single bad word or some other no-no...or maybe you write all that weird speculative may get told that your story is great, blah, blah, blah, but it won't have a chance of being published in the CBA.

There have been interminable debates among Christians for as long as I've been writing (about 7 years), and judging from those discussions the debates started long before I boarded the ship. While sometimes it feels as if we're talking in circles, gears spinning, at other times it seems that little by little the cogs of those gears are catching hold.

If nothing else, what it's done is draw attention to the issue...and drawn like-minded writers toward each other.

A great example of this is Realm Makers. I attended the first Realm Makers Conference last year (August 2013) and it was amazing. All of those writers, all Christians, all writing weird and dark--some cleaner, some with lots of CBA no-nos--coming together in one place and connecting.

I wrote a bit about that experience HERE shortly after the conference. Basically, it was amazing to realize that I'm part of a movement. Not that I've been welcomed into the fold of an already existing, fully-formed genre, but rather that I'm getting to experience a genre taking form and taking root.

That is exciting. That is what totally pumps me up about being involved in Realm Makers.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying others haven't played major rolls in carving the way for Christian speculative fiction. Oh, they have. Early writers of the genre, small presses that  have managed to find a measure of success. Even online forums have been around for several years that have allowed us to reach out to each other.

But Realm Makers is another huge step forward, and it has to do with that idea of not being forced into one box or the other. There are loads of writers conferences and sci-fi/fantasy cons. But they come in two flavors: Either purely secular, or overtly, primly, conservatively Christian.

Realm Makers is neither of those things. It seems to be its own animal right now, and that is what I love about it so much. It is, truly, Making its own Realm.

 So, intrigued? Check out the Realm Makers website for more info on the conference.

And head over to Becky Minor's blog to enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY for chance to win a digital subscription to Havok magazine and a five page edit from Grace Bridges, the owner of Splashdown Books.


Captain Travis said...

Nice post! And I think you are right, Kat. This genre is coming out in force in the future. I'm really glad to be around to witness the beginning, as I know you are as well.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Travis!

Susan Lower said...

I agree Kat, I'm tired of being stuck in a box because I'm Christian and having people shy away from books because of the label. I'm excited to see the growth of this new genre.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Susan. So glad to see more people excited about this :).

SherryT said...

I find this very exciting as well! I would LOVE to attend but I'm past the age & health to do the con-going bit anymore. Nuts! Bless RealmMakers & all who fly in her!

Anonymous said...

I've never attended an actual Christian conference. I almost attended the American Christion Fiction Writers conference in 2006, largely because the first chapter of Seabird was nominated for their Gebnesis Award & the winners would be announced at the conference.
ACFW also set up meetings between editors/publishers and aspiring Christian authors. By the time I knew I would be able to attend, virtually all those slots were filled. And thus began my education about the CBA & conservative Christian agents & authors. Since I couldn't have face to face meetings, I checked out everyone's sites in preparation for sending out queries. One publisher's site said that words like "darn" weren'y permitted because everyone knew it was a substitute something worse. Well, my character Cara wakes up on the beach to find she's badly sunburned. She says, "Darn!" I wasn't about to substitute "Fiddlesticks!) also a substitute BTW. That's when I wrote off the CBA-related part of the publishing industry. Ironically, that same Seabird Chapter 1 took 3rd Place at ACFW.

Xanthorpe said...

This perfectly describes where my novels will fall...thank you for posting this. Although it's doubtful I'll be able to travel to Philly in May, I will keep an eye on Realm Makers for sure!


Kat Heckenbach said...

Sherry-- I've had similar experiences at Christian writers cons, which is one reason I'm so stoked about Realm Makers. And I wish you were able to come--I'd love to go to get to meet you :). But I understand.

And Xanthorpe, you're most welcome!

Bryan Davis said...


Finding a place for a good, uplifting story that doesn't necessarily have a faith element or adhere to CBA boundaries is a difficult chore. I found this to be true with my new book, Reapers, which is why I decided to self publish it.

There are many stories that are too positive for the secular market and too edgy for the Christian market, reducing the publishing options for many hopeful writers. I don't see a good solution coming on the horizon.

By the way, if you want a free review copy, let me know by email - bryan (at) daviscrossing (dot) com. :-)

Bryan Davis

Kat Heckenbach said...

I agree, Bryan, it's difficult to find a place when you're on the edge of the dividing line between CBA and ABA.

Good luck with the self-publishing venture!