Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Realm Makers Virtualcon 2020 Recap

Photo by Gretchen E.K. Engel
Two weeks ago I attended Realm Makers Virtualcon 2020 from the comfort of my own home. While I plan to be in St. Louis next year, I'm glad with the craziness that's 2020, Virtualcon happened. It was a much-needed event that was the perfect virtual version of an in-person conference. I'm an extrovert and was concerned there wouldn't be enough face-to-face audio/video interaction, but I found ways.

Normally, I'm Realm Makers' Friendly Neighborhood Volunteer Coordinator. This year that role looked a bit different. All new skill sets meant different volunteers and different duties. My main role was as tech support and as a Discord moderator. I did tech support, helped coordinate prayer on Discord, and helped with appointments.

I spent the weeks leading up to Realm Makers learning how to break Discord in every possible way, sometimes on purpose but mostly figuring out that my laptop didn't have a webcam and how to load Discord on different computers including my daughter's laptop since she was attending as a teen. Her first Realm Makers!

Making an at Home Event Special

To make Realm Makers an event, I bought special food including the ingredients for nonalcoholic strawberry daiquiris. We ended up drinking them later, but they were a hit. I bought special crackers and cheese. Most importantly, I knew I'd be busy and wanted an immersive experience, so I enlisted my husband and son on cooking duties.
Good thing. I was very busy Thursday and my son's shrimp tacos were amazing! Thursday night my husband brought home a takeout feast--great timing. We had some technical difficulties and had to pivot from Crowdcast to Zoom. I was supposed to moderate C.J. Redwine's Harry Potter Trivia and we had to make adjustments to switch it. All went well. Whew!

My home office is cluttered because it was designed as an open office space with four work stations, so my daughter's desk is behind mine and windows make it tricky with lighting. Because I had to moderate panels on camera, I moved downstairs and set up in our living room, the only "camera friendly" part of our house. Since we were going to be on different sessions at the same time, I let my daughter use her laptop in her room, a temporary arrangement that she appreciated.

We live out west, so I had to get up early to prepare for the day and sessions started at 8 a.m. my time. I decided to sleep in our guest room to keep from interrupting my husband's sleep. It was so nice because it was like staying in a hotel room. I had no idea being in my own home could feel so much like a vacation.

Friday and Saturday my husband and son fixed dinner. One of the meals was lasagna roll-ups, a family favorite that takes a bit of time to prepare.

Socializing Happened
Two things made Realm Makers for me, nightly gaming and video chatting. We gamed on Discord using video chat. All of the hilarity and inside jokes that make tabletop gaming one of my favorite parts of Realm Makers happened at Virtualcon. Those game conversations drifted into late night visiting where we joked around but also deepened friendships. Saturday, I attended the Havok after party where the anthology finalists and winners were announced. I loved hearing the authors discuss the story behind their winning stories. The party continued on and I loved hanging out with the Havok Hive who include longtime friends and new friends. We had a great time and as usual turned into some memorable moments. The evenings hijinks included a prank that involved a sock puppets and a hazmat mask.

Quality Content

From N. D. Wilson's mindblowing keynote to C.J. Redwine's closing one, it was a conference full of fantastic content. As conference staff, I don't usually get to attend much in the way of sessions, but with the Crowdcast and Discord format, I was able to attend some sessions. I learned a lot from C.J. Redwine's marketing session and can't wait to attend the other sessions over the next few weeks.

I moderated the Why Write Short Fiction Panel. It was so good. The conversation flowed, and I rediscovered my love for short stories and the impact they have on us. We had a great discussion on a story that hit two panelists very differently. It was a story that made one panelist uncomfortable because it was convicting but resonated with me on a deep, emotional level.

To sum it up, Realm Makers Virtualcon 2020 was the perfect event for this year! And for 2021, I hope you'll Meet Me in St. Louis!


Please note that your comment hasn't gone through unless you see the notice: "Your comment will be visible after approval." We apologize for any difficulties posting comments or delays in moderation.