An Interview: Lisa Walker England

Maybe you’re already registered for this year’s Realm Makers conference, or maybe you’re still deciding, but either way, we thought it would be helpful to introduce you to a few of the faculty members who will be joining us this year. Avily Jerome of Havok Magazine was kind enough to conduct an interview for us of this year’s Steampunk aficionado, Lisa Walker England. Lisa is up to her elbows in multiple narrative art forms, so we are very excited to have her perspective on the genre. Read on to discover a little more about Lisa’s approach. 

Lisa Walker EnglandAnd if you haven’t registered yet, remember, you only have about a month and a week left to jump on board. Every person who attends Realm Makers contributes to the awesomeness of the conference, we truly believe that. 

In the meantime, here’s that little peek at Lisa’s style and passions. 

 

A.J.: Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been writing? What do you do for fun?

L.W.E.: Hello, fellow Realm Makers! This is my first time to attend, and I’m excited to meet all of you. What attracts me most to this conference is its positioning of writers as “Makers.” Whenever possible, I try not to think about myself as a writer at all. I’m a Maker whose inventions just happen to be stories. My tools are usually words, but at any given time, I might use 2D or 3D illustrations, digital tools, and even physical objects to build my inventions.

Like many of my characters, I’m a nomad. I was born in Ohio, lived in Illinois and Texas, and now reside in Wisconsin. (What can I say? The cheese is amazing.) I’ve been writing since I first learned to form letters, but I drifted away from creativity as a teenager, only to rekindle the fire in graduate school. I was so excited about rediscovering creative writing, in fact, that I leapt out of a funded PhD program to pursue it.

Looking back, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that course of action, but I wouldn’t trade away what I’ve learned on that journey, either. In the early years, I faltered through my first terrible novels and found my way into the world of screenwriting, which opened doors in storytelling for business. Now, I divide my creative time between writing graphic novels (with my artist partners at City Beast Studio), showrunning the steampunk web series Aurelia, and writing steampunk fiction.

For fun, I write. Seriously. Outside of my day job (still in marketing), hanging out with my husband, knitting, and going to comic/steampunk conventions, writing is my life. (Well, there was that time I learned to drive steam tractors. But I guess that was technically “writing research” . . .)

 

A.J.:. I understand you’re teaching on Steampunk at the Realm Makers contest. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about Steampunk. Can you tell us about the genre? What defines it and what are some characteristics of Steampunk stories?

L.W.E.: If you ask ten steampunk writers what steampunk is, you’ll get ten different answers. One of the beauties of the genre is its celebration of imagination and innovation. The literary tradition of steampunk is closely connected to the fandom, which is almost completely DIY. Steampunks themselves continually define and re-define what that term means. It’s a whole crowd of inventors! That being said, my simplest literary definition tends to be: Steampunk is Victorian speculative fiction. It imagines scientifically-advanced futures (or alternate pasts) using technologies from the Industrial Revolution. (Steam-powered computers, clockwork time machines, etc.) Steampunk can be either science fiction or fantasy, depending on how you write it. And its whole host of subgenres revolve around other historical power sources (clockwork, electricity, etc.) that fuel unique, speculative worlds.

A.J.: Can you give us a hint of what you’re going to be teaching on? What can someone who takes your class expect to come away with?

L.W.E.: In my class, we’ll board the Airship Steampunk, shout “Huzzah!” and cruise into the literary clouds for a high-altitude view of the genre. We’ll examine some of its most famous examples, explore its key characteristics, peek into the related fandom, and raise issues to consider when working with steam power. I look forward to continuing the conversation in the halls of the conference throughout the weekend. And I’m especially excited about the “goody bag” each attendee will receive—including a resource packet for further inspiration, as well as an illustrated copy of The Realm Maker, a steampunk short story I’m writing just for the occasion.

Between now and May, I’d love to connect with you via my website, lisawalkerengland.com.

Last Day to Register at Early Bird Pricing

The registration process is off to a strong start for Realm Makers:2014. We’ve pulled ahead of our numbers for this checkboxstage of the game last year, so that has been an encouragement to those of us orchestrating the details of the event.

Today, March 31st, is the LAST DAY you can register for the introductory price of $250, though, so if you haven’t gotten your registration in, don’t wait! If you’re in a position where the funds aren’t in place (say, you’re waiting on a tax return) but you know you’re coming, consider registering today to get the better rate, but elect to send a check for your cost. You can always email us at info[at]faithandfantasyalliance[dot]com and let us know when you think you’ll be able to remit payment. Far be it from us to have you miss the bargain. ;)

First and foremost, we just want you to come. There’s so much to learn and so many awesome people to meet, we’re confident you won’t regret making the trip.

So join registrants for 21 states and 3 countries who are already planning to be at Realm Makers: 2014. Because there’s no more exciting question than “What if…”

And the Winners Are . . .

blog hop headerIt is my pleasure to be able to announce the winners of the Realm Makers Blog Voyage giveaways. First, though, let me say how exciting it was to see the response to this blog hop, both in the volunteers who stepped up and in the amount of new people finding our Facebook page and Twitter profile. Bringing speculative fiction writers together is what we’re about!

So, without further ado, here are the runners up! They each win a 5-page edit from Grace Bridges and a one-year subscription to Havok magazine, the speculative imprint for Splickety magazine.

 

Congratulations!

Megan Besing and Bridgett Powers

 

The Grand Prize is the Writer’s TARDIS Basket full of all kinds of writer-ly goodies: books, resources, 5-page edit, one-year subscription to Havok, and a con-type sketch from a professional artist. How exciting is that?

 

And the winner is . . .

Bethany Jennings!

 

Congratulations to all the winners! And a huge thank you to everyone who made this blog hop a success! We hope to see many of you at the Realm Makers 2014 conference.

Nominate the Best Book Cover of 2013-2nd Call

The 2012 Parable Award went to Illustrator Christina Hess and designer Jon Mills for their work on The Windrider Saga

The 2012 Parable Award went to Illustrator Christina Hess and designer Jon Mills for their work on The Windrider Saga

The Parable Award for Excellence in Cover Design

Call for Nominations

Do you love fantasy and science fiction illustration or photography? Have you seen a cover on a new book this past year that you wish you could frame? Nominate that cover for consideration in the 2014 Parable Award for Excellence in Cover Design.

For some of you, this post will probably look familiar, because I put it out there in November of 2013. Well, I’m sorry to report the response for nominations at that time was underwhelming, at best. So, with a revised timeline, I am reiterating this call for nominations, and I’ve removed the caveat that authors and artists can’t nominate their own books. 

If I receive enough viable contenders to bring the contest down to three finalists, we will proceed. If not, then (with a heavy heart) I will declare the contest cancelled for this year. Let’s not let that happen! Read on for information on the award and how to nominate awesome cover art!

What is The Parable?

The Parable is a reader-initiated, committee-awarded recognition of the best-designed cover on a speculative fiction book directed to the Christian or family-friendly market. The award carries a cash prize, and the winner also receives a plaque and certificate for their work. The award for 2012 was $100 cash, which we hope to increase in subsequent years.

What does reader-initiated mean?

Readers are responsible for suggesting books that should be in the running for the award. From the books that are nominated by this pool of enthusiasts, a panel of experts in the field of illustration and typography will narrow the field and name the winner.

What books are eligible?

  • Must be in a speculative genre (science fiction or fantasy or any of their numerous subgenres)
  • Published between January 1, 2013 and December 31st, 2013.
  • Marketed to a Christian audience (for example, book descriptions, tags, and categories on Amazon will help you determine this, as do the publishing house’s guidelines for what they produce.)
  • Can be either ebook or printed book edition
  • Yes, self-published books are eligible

When do we find out who wins?

The winner will be announced during the costume gala and awards dinner at Realm Makers: 2014, which will take place on Friday, May 30th, 2014, on the campus of Villanova University.

How do I nominate a book?

Send your suggestion in an email to info[at]faithandfantasyalliance[dot]com, with Parable Award Suggestion in the subject line. When suggesting a book, please include the author’s name, the book title, and if possible, a link to somewhere it’s available for sale that displays its cover art. (Amazon or Barnes and Noble are best.) Again, if you published the book, wrote the book, edited the book, or otherwise had a direct hand in its publication process, please let someone else recognize the quality of the cover and suggest it. I won’t stop authors from soliciting nominations from their fans, but please note that ten nominations are no more powerful than one.

Panel Review Process

Once we have gathered all the reader-suggestions, a preliminary panel will narrow the field by scoring the books in terms of overall effectiveness, image quality, and typography/layout. Semi-finalists will be scored in a subsequent round. The final panel of three experts: one illustrator, one graphic designer, and one photographer, will score the finalists and generate comments to choose the winner.

In the extremely rare event that we should have a tie in the final round, the finalists’ covers will be posted on-line to solicit reader votes on who they believe the winner should be. Points based on the placings in the reader vote will be added to the expert scores, which will then determine the winner.

Revised Timeline:

March 5th, 2014: Contest opens to submissions

March 31, 2014: Reader Suggestion cut-off date

April 21, 2014:  Finalists named, artists responsible notified of their finalist status

May 30th, 2014: Winner announced at Realm Makers

So take a look through the new speculative fiction you’ve read this year, with eye for the most striking covers. Help your favorite authors and artists earn a little of the recognition they deserve by submitting their cover art for consideration. Submissions open NOW!

Registration is LIVE!

herald trumpetersWell, if you’re reading this as it goes out, that means you’re either in a time zone that runs later than Midnight EST (heck, you might even be in New Zealand, and then you’re completely in tomorrow, by my standards) or that you’re a night owl. But the exciting news you get to hear first: if you’ve been waiting for your chance to register for Realm makers: 2014…

GO!

Head to the Registration Page on the Realm Makers site. On that page, you’ll find the button that will take you to the registration form. Before you click that button, however, I recommend you scroll down the registration page to the conference FAQ, which might help to cover some questions you might have.

Once you register, the system will send you a confirmation email. If you opt for housing, we will be working on making room assignments over the next 6-8 weeks, but as soon as we know who you’re rooming with and have the housing information packet ready, we will send that out to you. (So look for that mid-to-late April. Housing is a complex job.)

Some of you may be wondering, “Will I be able to pitch my manuscript at Realm Makers?” The answer is, “Yes.” As of right now, we have confirmation from the following publishers that they will be taking appointments:

Marcher Lord Press

The Steve Laube Agency (Steve Laube)

Pelican Book Group (Sarah Grimm)

Splashdown Books (Grace Bridges)

Diminished Media Group (Randy Streu)

Castle Gate Press (Suzanne Hartmann and Phyllis Wheeler)

Taegais Publishing (Amy Deardon)

In the coming weeks, we will be posting more information on the Realm Makers site about these publishers and their submission requirements. For now, I recommend you browse their sites and get a feel for whether your project is a good fit for any of their needs.

I’m excited…in the word of Little Red Riding Hood from the Broadway show Into the Woods, “[This makes] me feel excited. Well excited and scared.” I look forward to see who will be joining us this year. If you’re not yet sure, take the leap! Join us on the adventure. You’ll be glad you did.

The Flash Fiction Contest: And the Winner Is…

This year’s Flash Fiction contest one for the books…a done deal. We’re very excited today to announce the winner of this event! The following are a few words from Avily Jerome, editor of Havok Magazine and the main contest judge. Read on to see whose entries came out on top.

 

Judging this contest was so much fun for me. I really enjoyed reading all the different types of stories that came from the same prompts. The diversity and the writing was fantastic all around.

Which, of course, made it incredibly difficult to judge. There wasn’t a single story that I couldn’t see potential in. So, everyone who entered, well done. Truly, fantastic job.

Unfortunately, this was a contest and they wouldn’t let me give away grand prizes to everyone, so after I finished my initial reading of all the stories, I had to go through, little by little, and narrow it down. Thirty-one stories, and with every one I cut, the decision got harder.

Finally, I was down to the top handful. By that point I had pretty much decided my top two favorites, but in the interest of being totally fair and unbiased, I sent my top seven to three different people for their input.

The result was nearly unanimous. All three of my extra readers had my top two in their top three favorites. They didn’t all have them in the same order, but they all agreed that they were the best of the best. So, based on that input, I came to my final decision.

Without further ado, I give you the winner of the 2014 Realm Makers Flash Fiction Contest,

Flash Fiction Contest Prompt_2Jenni Gallagher, for her story “A Matter of Time”

Congratulations, Jenni!

The two runners up, in order, are

Rebecca Postupak, for her story “Burn,” and Amy Williams, for her story “These Eyes.”

Again, well done everyone, and congratulations, Jenni!

According to the contest parameters, Jenni will receive a free registration to the 2014 conference, a cool t-shirt, and have her story printed in the conference booklet. The runners up will also have their stories printed in the booklet, and Rebecca gets a t-shirt as well.

 

Thanks for your participation, everyone. And remember, conference registration OPENS TOMORROW!

 

Call for Volunteers-Realm Makers: 2014

Are you the type of person who loves to be on the inner circle of the things you’re involved in? Do you have a desire to serve the speculative fiction community? The you should consider volunteering at Realm Makers: 2014.

Below, you’ll find a table of the types of volunteers we need for this year’s conference. Some of the jobs are big ( i.e. Housing Coordinator, Liveblogger) while others are just for a short time during the conference. Conferences require an energetic squadron of helpers to make them run smoothly, so if that sounds like you, please contact us at info[at]faithandfantasyalliance[dot]com. Please put “Conference Volunteer- [your name]” in the subject line, then let me know what job(s) you’re up for.

Role Number needed Job Description Day(s) needed
Innkeeper (Housing Coordinator) Job is filled! Hooray! Assigns registrants to rooms based on roommate requests or gender/occupancy March 1-May 30th
Royal Vizier (Faculty Assistants) 3-4 Dependable vehicle at conference required. Assist assigned faculty members with trips to/from airport, getting situated at conference, catering to any particular needs Thursday, May 29th- Sunday, June 1
Criers (Conference Greeters) 3-5 Be available to greet and direct arriving conference ateendees; help folks find facilites on Friday Thursday, May 29th- Friday, May 30th
Scribes of Arcana (Bookstore Set Up) 4-5

1 or 2 more needed

Help selling authors set up their inventory, assist in the cataloging of consigned books for sales record keeping Evening of May 29th
Royal Chancellor (Agent/Editor Appointment Coordinator) 1 Assist attendees in signing up for editor appointments, assure that editors and agents have schedules Thursday, May 29th-Saturday, May 31
Chronincler (Conference Candids Photographer) 1-2Another filled job! :) Take as many pictures as you can of the goings-on at Realm Makers for use on the web to promote the conference; post them to the conference Facebook page. Having a camera of better quality than a phone camera a must Thursday, May 29th-Saturday, May 31
Court Herald (Liveblogger) 1-2Need 1 more person

with good tweet-fu. :)

Mastermind the process for liveblogging key events from the conference (keynotes, awards dinner), execution of liveblog during conference Preparation time/logistics plus Friday, May 30-Saturday, May 31