August 31, 2016

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat :: 2016

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

Hello my lovelies! So you may or may not have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here for a couple weeks. Roadtrips to Nashville will do that! :) Surprisingly (probably) I didn't mention much about this trip (or anything about it actually) prior to going. I was a bit worried that things may not work out like I wanted, so I kept quiet. But! I did go and it was AMAZING. I have some stories to share (naturally), but I have no one in real life who wants to listen to my gushing over and over and over about how I still can't believe I actually got to meet all those wonderful ladies. So that means y'all get to listen to me here! (Or not. No pressure to read to the very end of this wordy post. I completely understand the commitment it requires! ;)

As you see above, I went to the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. It was basically a chance for readers and bloggers to meet with the authors we love so much. A few authors spoke about their stories and what inspired them to begin writing, we had chances to ask them questions and just chat about how much we loved their books, and we got to have books signed and take pictures galore. The entire experience was a delight! I loved the whole feeling of the day. These were my people! They understood me, they knew my passion for reading, and they felt the same. It was glorious!!

Laura Frantz, Gabrielle Meyer, Kristi Ann Hunter
The Bloggers

First and foremost? The most unexpected and happiest of surprises? I got to meet Rel of Relz Reviewz!!!!!

I found out just a couple days prior to leaving that she was going to be visiting the US (she lives in Australia) and was going to be in the same city as I. I couldn't believe I would be that close and totally miss her! I tried to brainstorm some scheme to try and meet up, but I am not savvy and awesome like that so I came up with nothing. *cue sadness* However! She somehow decided to make a late afternoon appearance just as our retreat was ending and I was SO EXCITED. There are no words for how thrilled I was to see her! Seriously. I never imagined that I would ever get the chance. Australia is far, far away from my little spot in the world.

(Incidentally, I told her that meeting her was an honor because I was meeting REL. She is deserving of all caps and glitter! If you're part of the Christian Fiction blogging community, I know you've heard of her because she is just that amazing. She tried to tell me that she's perfectly normal and nothing extraordinary, but I, respectfully, beg to differ. :)

I pretty much gushed all over her and she was gracious enough to let me. She even seemed to like me too! Still pretty giddy about that. :)

And yet!

There is still more awesome to talk about because I met Jamie from Books and Beverages too! So I spent my day with one of the nicest and sweetest ladies around. She was another I was extra nervous about because, while I love chatting online with her, I was a bit worried she might not like me so well in person. I know! That's crazy talk, but I have to be honest. Good thing I was wrong! Because she was wonderful. Even if we didn't get to chat about Tolkien and Lewis nearly as much as I wanted. Next time, right Jamie? ;)

Krista Phillips, Pepper Basham
I remember looking in the doorway and seeing her in there already setting up. It's just the weirdest, craziest, most awesome thing to see a person for real! When you've seen their picture and had many a convo, when you feel like you've known them for years yet never met them, and then suddenly see them right in front of you, it's just....I don't really have the words to describe the feeling. It's just cool, is what it is!

There were several other bloggers there that I'd heard of but had never interacted with them. Namely Annie and Carrie, who helped host, along with Bonnie. (Those ladies worked tirelessly to get this day set up. They deserve all the kudos and cookies in the world!) I'm blanking on who else I met right now, but suffice it to say, there were many. And still more were there that I never even said hello to, I found out later. Next year I'm totally planning ahead better! :)

The Authors

  • Mary Connealy and Ruth Logan Herne are absolutely hilarious! I could have listened to them all day long. Someone called them "the Laurel and Hardy of Christian Fiction", which is a perfect description. 
  • Mary's last name is pronounced "kuh-NEAL-ly" NOT "KAHN-nelly". I've been saying it wrong for years! (At least I'm not the only one? Others were remarking on this too.)
  • Ruthy is wonderful. She is so full of life and enthusiasm! I loved getting to know her a bit better.
  • Laura Frantz is the nicest! Chatting with her felt like talking with an old friend.
  • Julie Lessman has a beautiful heart. It radiates out when you meet her.
  • Tamera Alexander, Carrie Turansky, Kristi Ann Hunter, Kate Breslin, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Slattery, they all were so gracious and kind (even when I had to admit that I hadn't read Kate's or Jennifer's books yet, they both sweetly signed a book plate thing for me anyway).
    Rel, Kara Isaac, Tamera Leigh,
    Jamie, Dani Pettrey, Becky Wade,
    Pepper Basham, Julie Lessman, Laura Frantz
  • I sat beside Melanie Dickerson. The entire day! That moment I looked up and she wanted to slide by me to sit down, I think my eyes sort of bugged out of my head for a second! ;D
  • Becky Wade remembered my blog!!! That was a very giddy moment! :)
  • Dani Pettrey (pronounced "PET-tree") has never been to Alaska! How is this possible anyway? Because her books clearly indicate that she has! ;) 
  • Krista Phillips has an amazing daughter. She shared her journey with a few of us and oh my! That little girl is a walking miracle.
  • I haven't read any of Mesu Andrews' (pronounced "MEE-su") books, but after having a chance to hear her tell about them (and because I've heard nothing but good things from fellow bloggers), I bought one and am excited to read it!
  • Meghan Gorecki's beautiful smile just makes you feel happy! I love her dimples. :)
  • Kara Isaac!!! Aaahhhh, I was SO excited to meet her!! She lives in New Zealand (I know) and aside from having an awesome name ;), she is another I never dreamed I'd get the chance to meet in person! We've chatted via twitter and she remembered me. *happy dance*
  • Pepper Basham was absolutely a delight! We bonded over our mutual love of Catherine (and David! ;). 
  • It was a total shock to look up and see Tamara Leigh! She wasn't even supposed to be there, so my fangirling probably got a bit out of control. ;) I have loved her books for years

L to R: Melanie Dickerson, Gabrielle Meyer, Laura Frantz,
Pepper Basham, Kristi Ann Hunter, Carrie Turansky
(These authors dressed up in the time period in which their books are set.)

Every single moment was so wonderful and I kept sitting there wondering if it was all real. It's incredibly surreal to look around you and see all these people who are so much more than just people to you! Their words bring happiness and have become part of my heart, their books feel like old friends, and there's simply this unexplainable quality about book people, isn't there? To quote myself, "Book people are awesome! Regardless if we read the same genres or no, regardless if we read lots or a little, no matter the differences, book people just get each other. It's true! There is absolutely nothing like talking with someone else who's passionate about stories. Who, when asked to name their favorite authors, whips out a giant list. Who grins secretly at me when I notice we're both standing in line at the library with our arms full. Who sees the book I'm holding and instantly says "Ooo, that's a good one! Have you read....?". There was a lot of secret smiling and general fangirling going on that day. These are my people and I loved every minute. :)


  1. Wow! Sounds like you had a blast! I'm happy for you!

  2. That sounds so much fun! I actually read about this conference on one of the authors blogs and thought it sounded really nice, but I had no idea you would go!

    1. Birdie: Well, to be honest my decision to go was kind of last minute. And it wasn't until a day or so ahead that I knew for certain. But I am SO glad I had the chance! It was a delight all day long. :)

  3. Kara, I am so glad you were able to make this trip work. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, and you met amazing people. I'm so glad. Also, I agree. Rel is worthy of all caps as is Jamie. What a fabulous experience. (And TWO of our INSPYs board members in the same time zone!? WHAT!? ;D) Thanks for sharing a little bit of your excitement.

    1. Rissi: Thank you for reading through all my gushing and incoherence! It was a fabulous experience indeed. And Rel and Jamie are the best! (Definitely worthy of all caps!) And the nicest. It's certainly an experience I won't be forgetting any time soon! :)

  4. I'm so so glad you made it to the retreat and such a joy getting to hang out!! It really was the best!!

    1. Jamie: It was a joy, my friend. Hands down one of the top experiences of this year for me! Thanks again for putting up with all my gushing incoherence. :)


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