August 28, 2017

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat :: 2017

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat
Hello, my lovelies! Guess what I did a couple weeks ago? (As if the picture doesn't give it away, huh? ;) Yes! I did indeed drive up to Cincinnati to CFRR. Oh, friends, it was an AMAZING day. It truly was! I'm still pinching myself to try and convince me that I was actually there! :D

(It's been a somewhat difficult year for me so far. It seems that for as hard as 2016 was in dealing with my initial grief, this year has been harder. I've just struggled to keep on top of my emotions on a daily basis. So to have this weekend in August to look forward to and then experience? Ah, I cannot describe what happy it gave my heart! :)

There were so many awesome authors and readers there this year! I admit to dealing with some anxiety all the way up until the moment I was standing in line (as all of us introvert types do, am I right?), but then I saw a couple ladies I'd met last year and I *happy sighed* when they were just as thrilled to see me. :)

{The only downside to the whole day was the fact that I knew I wouldn't get to see Rel and Jamie again. But someday we'll meet again, I just know it!}

The whole day was so amazing and awesome and I've been wanting to share it with y' just kind of got a bit crazy once I got home again. But here I am now, better late than never, right? :) So how about a little recap?

I began the day with my bag of books for signing and a stop at Starbucks for a chai tea. A perfect beginning! :)

Then I saw Carrie (from Reading is my Superpower) and got my hug. She is a wonderful reader/blogger/FRIEND that helped head this whole deal up. I was thrilled to see her! :D

Follow that initial sign in and greeting with entering a huge room full of readers, bloggers, and authors and I didn't know where to start! Once the party officially got started, I can't describe to you what it feels like to look up front and see this whole row of authors in person. (I was at the very back of the room, I apologize for all the heads in the pictures. Just what it had to be.)

There were games, author panels, and my favorite: hearing a few specific authors share their hearts.
  • Cynthia Ruchti - She talked about how important readers are. We have to have authors writing books, yes, but without a reader to read it, it doesn't complete it's purpose. Plus she shared a wonderful poem she had written herself!
  • Becky Wade and Dani Pettrey - Dani was unable to actually be there in person, but we got to see her via technology for a little. She and Becky had put together a way for those of us readers to get the chance to see the actual process of writing a book. (Click here for Becky's blog post about the workshop.) It involved M&Ms, which means it was a delicious experience! ;)
  • Shelley Shepherd Gray - She spoke about how much she loves reading herself and how that flowed over into her attempting to write her own story. She's so incredibly disciplined that she writes at least 10 pages a day and she says she won't let herself get up from her computer until all 10 pages are written. (!!!!)
We had lunch, in which I ate at a table full of readers, bloggers, one gal from...Bethany House I believe?, and Rachel Hauck! Rachel is very sweet, I enjoyed getting the chance to chat with her. I think that's probably my very favorite part of CFRR as a whole. That we can socialize and interact with authors and get the chance to see beyond their "writer persona" into who they truly are. They become friends instead of this "high and lofty celebrity type" (if you know what I mean?). 

Before the afternoon author panel, I had the chance to chat with Ann Gabhart. I haven't actually read any of her books yet and had to admit that to her (*gasp* I know!), but I definitely knew who she was! She helped me figure out which of her books I'd been highly recommended but couldn't remember the title. (It's Angel Sister, for those interested.) She's just this lovely, southern woman who has this comfortable feeling about her. I would love to spend a whole day just listening to her, she has a lot of wisdom to share. :)

L to R: Karen Barnett, Rachel McMillan, Laura Frantz, Serena Chase
Ronie Kendig, Rachel Hauck, Melissa Tagg, Meghan Gorecki
Ann Gabhart, Courtney Walsh, Susan May Warren, Gabrielle Meyer
Katie Ganshert, Ruth Logan Herne, Dawn Crandall, Pepper Basham

Then came the author signing at the end of the day! It was a delight to meet several and get their signatures. But two particular meetings stand out to me the most!

My reviews of The Ryn, The Remedy,
The Seahorse Legacy,
& The Sunken Realm 
First, I went up to Serena Chase (who, by the by, is the author of that incredible series in the picture and if you haven't read them, you must!) and started talking about how much I loved her books and how happy I was that she was there so I could meet her and all of a sudden.... She said something like, "Are you Kara from Flowers of Quiet Happiness?". Talk about getting my attention! I hadn't even mentioned my blog name at all yet! She then proceeded to get so excited to meet me. To meet ME. How crazy is that? I've been a fan of her stories since...2013 when The Remedy (from her Eyes of E'veria series) first came out, but to have ever imagined she'd remember me and my little blog? I couldn't seem to wrap my brain around that idea! I don't think either of us stopped grinning during the subsequent conversation. :D So yeah, that bit was awesome, friends! 

The second one was getting the chance to meet Rachel McMillan. I did mention my blog name to her first, but she knew who I was once I did! Which is still crazy to me. This little spot feels so small and cozy to me. I love it, but I don't think of myself as being all that well known on the blogosphere. Which is fine! But makes for funny moments when an author tells me they remember my blog name! :D Rachel is just awesome, for the record. I was so excited for the chance to meet her that I had to sneak a picture earlier during the day when she was on an author panel. ;)

But talking with all of them was just pure awesome! When I went up to Ronie Kendig and mentioned that I knew she and Rel were good friends, she said she'd been texting with her just a few minutes before. So it kind of felt like Rel was there for a second! :) I admit that it took me a while to recognize Dawn Crandall because her hair color was different than in her Official Author Pic. But she was so sweet once I did finally go up to her. I was thrilled to bits to get to share why I loved Life After so much to Katie Ganshert! And as I totally expected because of last year, Laura Frantz and Pepper Basham were both as lovely as ever.

Seriously, friends, this was an incredible day! If you get the chance to go next year, I highly recommend it! And it's a day I definitely won't soon be forgetting. :D


  1. Wow! This sounds like an amazing event. I'm not a big Christian book reader, but I am Christian. Sadly, I don't know any of those authors you mentioned. I'm glad you had fun though. I wish we had something like that here.

    1. Kami: It was definitely amazing! So fun to get the chance to see a bunch of authors all at once vs just meeting one. Although I will admit to being envious of you and your friends who live so close to Kings English bookstore and get to meet lots of different authors! :)

  2. Kara, thank you for your wonderful review of our 2017 CFRR - I'm so glad you were able to attend again this year and hope the joy, encouragement, and inspiration you found there helped offset your difficult year. Your graciousness and beautiful smile make it a blessing to be around you - I hope to see you at our 2018 CFRR!! Blessings!!

    Bonnie Roof

    1. Bonnie: I was SO pleased I was able to attend again! And yes, the joy of the day absolutely helped my difficult year. Just the anticipation of it alone helped tremendously! :) I hope I can make it next year year as well. It would be delightful to see you again! :)

  3. What a wonderful recap! I feel like I was transported back to Cincinnati for a few minutes. It was such an amazing day, and I can honestly say that the authors love being there just as much as the readers. If I wrote a recap, not only would I fangirl along side you about meeting some of my favorite authors in person, but also my favorite readers, reviewers, and bloggers. I loved seeing you there again this year, Kara! There's nothing better than being in a room of people who speak the same heart language: books! Thank you for sharing your memories and your gracious spirit here on your lovely blog.

    1. Gabrielle: Thank you for such kind words! :) I loved seeing all the happy in that room. And I love that writers and readers fangirl over each other! It's a wonderful connection between us, that heart language, isn't it? I loved seeing you as well! :)

  4. oh my goodness, girl! I had tears in my eyes and God-goosebumps while reading this post! SO thankful that God laid an event on our heart that He knew you would need last year and this year. Praying that peace continues to invade your heart and joy nudges in where grief has rooted. Love you! <3

    1. Carrie: Oh my dearest friend, you have no idea what anticipating that day and then experiencing that day did for my heart. God is SO good!! Thank YOU for allowing Him to work through you! Love you too, whole bunches! :)

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. That's so cool that you were recognized.

  6. So glad you had a blast (and totally bummed I missed), but we'll definitely get to hang again!

    1. Jamie: Definitely missed you! But yes, we'll get to hang again some day, I'm sure of it. :)

  7. What a wonderful adventure! I know a few of the names you mentioned, and it's so cool you got to see, hear, and meet so many of them!

    1. Hamlette: It was definitely wonderful! Words can't describe the happy that filled my heart that day. Actually, that still fills it when I think back on the lovely memories! :)

  8. Sounds like so much fun! If only these things would be organized in The Netherlands (or in Europe at the very least)...


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