A month and a half ago I had the wonderful experience of participating in something NEW! If you’ve been on social media, you might have heard about it. At the end of August, the very first Christian Fiction Readers Retreat happened in Nashville, TN.
So…what is CFRR?
At first it was a dream – but with the right people in charge, it became a reality. From a wish whispered to Julie Lessman three years ago by Bonnie Roof, to a treasure-of-an-opportunity in Nashville, TN. Three devoted readers and bloggers decided that there needed to be an opportunity for readers and authors to meet together and mutually encourage, support, and uplift one another.
Bonnie from Overcoming with God, Annie from the blog Just Commonly, and Carrie from Reading is my Super Power cast a wide net to gather readers, bloggers, and authors alike to meet to learn, teach, laugh, pray, and worship together. It was such a unique and amazing opportunity.
So I’m going to give you a brief overview.
The theme of the conference was Honoring God Through Christian Fiction
The atmosphere lit with a beautiful merging of learning, conversations, prayer, prizes, praise, and laughter.
Bonnie, Carrie, and Annie kicked off breakfast by sharing how the Lord blew their socks off with miracles in preparation for the retreat. Authors they never imagined showing up and response from readers that surprised them – definitely pointing to how this retreat as something lots of people had been waiting for!
Debby Giusti started the retreat off right with prayer. Interspersed through the panel discussions, presentations, and speed chats, was some praise time offered by Caryl McAdoo, Melony Teague, and Rachel Dixon.
The dynamic duo of Mary Conneally and Ruth Logan Herne (Seekerville Divas) hosted a presentation on their own writing journies (as well as some hysterical interactions between the two of them), followed by the amazing Julie Lessman, who shared her gripping testimony. Tamera Alexander came next, encouraging authors with her own struggles and successes along the writing journey.
The first panel discussion included authors Carrie Turansky, Gabe Meyer, Jan Drexler, Jennifer Slatterly, Laura Frantz, and Myra Johnson. They answered questions related to the ‘writer’s life’ – and just proved that even within our sameness there are a lot of differences :-)
After lunch…in a very “Hogwarts looking’ dining room – where I sat with some new friends as well as sharing wonderful space with my lovely Krista Phillips, my adorable Rachael Wing, and my cute & sassy Sarah Monzon, we returned to the main rooms for worship and then back to some fun afternoon activities.
Laura Frantz spoke next, bringing her sweet spirit, fantastic southern accent, and beautiful personality to the audience by asking them questions.
Next was one of those ‘surreal-thank-you-Jesus-for-letting-me-be-here’ moments where I sat on a panel entitled Pucker Up (talking about romance and smooching in fiction). I was on this panel with the following AMAZING authors – Ruth Logan Herne, Melanie Dickerson, Kristi Ann Hunter, Janet Dean, and the ‘kissing queen herself’ Julie Lessman. WOW what fun!!!! I loved chatting about how a kiss is NEVER just a kiss – it should always have much more than just lips-on-lips. (though that part is fun too :-)
A Reader panel gave us authors a chance to hear from our audience about what they enjoy most about stories and authors. Readers like to hear from us, people!! And they want organic books that are realistic.
Speed Chats ensued – where authors moved from group to group like speed dating. So much fun and a great way to get to meet new people.
The next author panel about Imaginary Friends featured Kara Isaacs, Becky Wade, Carrie Fancet Pagels, Sarah Monzon, Dani Pettrey, and Mesu Andrews (who is now in my neck of the woods in western NC :-)
I LOVE readers!!! Getting to meet readers, engage in conversations, find out what they loved about our stories, made this retreat truly spectacular. That touch point in closing the gap between authors and readers was amazing.
This retreat was the perfect combination of stories, readers, authors, and Jesus. The room exploded with joy and acceptance.
The retreat offered something unique in the realm of Christian fiction. Our writer’s conferences are fantastic, but this opportunity moved our words from a ballroom to an intimate fireside chat.
I can’t wait to experience it again in 2017!!!
In celebration of CFRR, I have a giveway for you!!
Some of the questions asked in the panel discussions are below. Pick TWO and answer to be entered into a CFRR-inspired giveaway!!!!
1. What was the moment that you KNEW God had called you to write?
2. What's the funniest/weirdest thing that's happened to you on your writing journey?
3. Do you prefer stand-alones or series?
4. Do you prefer more passion in your books-both spiritually and romantically-or less?
5. How do you prefer to interact with your favorite authors? Through social media, or via newsletters?
6. Speaking of just right, what elements do you think must be in the perfect fictional kiss?
7. What's your favorite kissing scene that you've written?
8. If your characters could describe YOU as an author, what would they say?
A winner will be announced next Friday, October 21!!