Tuesday, October 11, 2016

CFRR in Review

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.
CFFR was born.

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

YES! Readers + Authors + Jesus????? Add some chocolate and you have a perfect day! :-)

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 :-)

My thoughts:

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!!


Laurie Tomlinson said...

It made my heart so happy to see these pictures pop up in my feed this morning! Even though I didn't get to participate, I love these faces!

Pepper said...

There are some great faces in that mix :-)

justcommonly said...

Awww...my dear Pepper! You are awesome! Thank you for being one of the authors at CFRR! there were a lot of fangirling involved, in addition to the great worship and panels and games we had. Thanks Pepper! Hugs & kisses!

MeezCarrie said...

i love love love this! Made my heart happy today <3

Rebecca Maney said...

Since I have already received the uber-special CFRR treat tote, I will just take a minute to say again what an awesome event the Reader's Retreat turned out to be. It far exceeded my expectations and those were pretty high to begin with.

Thanks again for taking your time to be there! Hearing about stories from the inside out was a treat!

Heidi Reads... said...

I so wish I could have gone to CFRR! I'm hoping to be able to road trip it next year :)

I definitely like books with more passion! I love the romance, and I connect more with characters when their emotions are realistically portrayed.

My favorite way to connect with authors is on social media! I love the quick replies and glimpses into their lives and writing process.

colorvibrant at gmail dot com

Mary Connealy said...

What a wonderful day. Absolutely had the best time!!!
Thank you Bonnie, Carrie and Annie and Pepper thanks for the great reminder of it!

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Pepper, that was such a fun day! I loved reading your post and viewing the photos. : ) Can't wait for next year!!

Jenny Snow said...

This looked like so much fun! Wish I could have been there! Any chance the next one will be in Texas?! :)

kaybee said...

What a great event! Wish I was there.
I prefer series to stand-alones. I love watching a character grow, even though it's not his or her book any more.
I prefer to interact with authors through social media. That way we can communicate. A newsletter is more one-way, although I always enjoy hearing what they're doing.
Kathy Bailey

Gail H. said...

Stand alones or series really depends on how good the writing is and how engaging the characters are. My daughter got me started on the Baxter series by Karen Kingsbury and I was hooked. Most of the time though I prefer to read single books. That way I can enjoy new characters, new authors and different story lines.
I enjoy reading newsletters but I prefer social media, especially Facebook. The interactions are more personal. I won a contest recently where I got to have FaceTime with a favorite author and it was so much fun.

Julie Lessman said...

Absolutely unequivocally THE BEST Christian function OR retreat that I have ever been to!!!

LOVED every single moment and will cherish the memories forever!!

Thanks, Pep, for reminding me all over again! :)


Robin E. Mason said...

Funniest / weirdest—I developed a taste for raspberries!! never used to care them them, but as wrote about this plethora of women whose favorite flavor is raspberry, suddenly I like it too!!!

and interacting with other authors—social media over newsletter, and live and in person over anything virtual!!! (like, say, brunch at the Biltmore??? wink wink)

Winnie said...

It makes my heart happy to see these pictures again, even though I wasn't able to attend. I loved "meeting" several of you over Facebook chat. That was so much fun! I love interacting with authors and blogger friends over social media. I've met sooooo many wonderful people that way. I enjoy newsletters, too, but they don't seem as personal.

I enjoy series books as long as they are also stand-alone books. I need to have that finished ending--no cliff-hangers!

Bonnie Roof said...

Thank you so much for spotlighting CFRR, Pepper - one of the best days in my life and an event that makes me so emotional each time I reminisce about it. It was such a joy and blessing from God!!

Thank you for your huge contribution to CFRR - your beautiful praise/worship session, panel discussion, book-signings, period clothing attire, your wonderful books, your encouragement, smiles and hugs, and so much more. We appreciate it more than you know!!

Hugs and blessings!!

Sylvia said...

Do you prefer more passion in your books-both spiritually and romantically-or less? 

Oh, yes to both. I have read some lovely books that got it right in one of these areas, but seemed to be lacking in the other. More passion spiritually is the one I most often do not see. I wonder if the characters even are attempting to be followers of Christ. Romantic passion is always a plus, as long as, it's setting a good example to the reader. I feel very uncomfortable reading about supposed Christians who are so passionate that they end up in bed together or almost get there. If the character isn't a Christian yet, but eventually gets saved, then I expect them to behave in that manner. Anyway, if the right boundaries are in place (or the couple is married) I say, yes, yes, yes to more passion in the book! Sometimes these couples get engaged and I feel like they are talking to an acquaintance they barely know. Their relationship and passion are wooden. So, yes, more passion spiritually and romantically is a good thing.


Sylvia said...

Do you prefer stand-alones or series?

I actually prefer series, but do enjoy stand-alones. Many times I will find myself picking out supporting characters in a stand-alone and saying to myself, "I wish she would write a book about her or him." Sometimes, in a stand-alone, there will be a married couple and I will wish I could read their story.


Dianna said...

I knew about the retreat because I read Just Uncommonly blog often. It sounded like a really wonderful experience!

As for the questions....I prefer stand alone books if I'm just finding a book to read. If it's a finished series, then I prefer that! I hate waiting for the next book, or needing to read in certain order.

I like "clean" romance. I don't want to know too many details about what's going on behind closed doors. I do, however, want to know that the characters feel sparks. It's hard to be convinced that a couple is in love after a week of dates, and when they still wonder if the other person likes them.

Pepper said...

You, Carrie, and Bonnie are AMAZING!! I'm so glad God matched you all together with the same passion and love for books/authors so that this dream could become a reality!!

And an added bonus is that I had the chance to meet you all in person!!

Pepper said...

You're wonderful!! Thanks for the continual encouragement!! I'm so glad I got a double-Rebecca summer :-)

Pepper said...

You are speaking MY language with that romance hype :-) LOVE LOVE LOVE romance!!

And I'm also a big fan of social media - particularly Facebook. I think it's definitely my best mode of the social media options.

Pepper said...

Mary and Julie,
ALWAYS an honor for some amazing Seekers to come visit their 'daughter' blog :-) You guys are such encouragers and inspirations

Pepper said...

Carrie Turansky,
I just love getting another pic with you in our costumes and HATS!! YES!! The cover of your new historical is absolutely spectacular.

I'm looking forward to next year too!

Pepper said...

HAHA, Jenny! Texas is such a nice place to visit - especially northern TX :-)

Pepper said...

I'm with you on FB! Love connecting with people through that mode.
And I like reading both series and stand-alones, but I love writing series :-) Weird....

Pepper said...

Isn't it fun to watch characters grow from one book to the other? I prefer different main characters that bring former characters into them in the series, but enjoy watching the dynamic of having those characters still be a part of the story.

Laura Frantz said...

Such a heartfelt informative post. ���� I have such great memories of this unique event & feel really honored to have been to the first. Praying for Annie, Bonnie, & Carrie as well as all those who will take part in future. An author's dream to meet readers!

Terrill R. said...

Pepper, I'm so excited to see another contemporary romance from you. I have loved all of your work, but have a penchant for contemporary. Odd, since my love for romance started with Pride and Prejudice when I was 15. :-P The encouragement and camaraderie that is evident from the above photos make me wish to be a published author just to share the experience. Alas, I'm happy to be a supportive and encouraging reader and do my best to share my love for Christian fiction.

I am happy to answer the question about more or less passion, spiritually and/or romantically. The more Christian romance I read, the more I realize how much I long for strong, bold and transparent faith threads. I will often read reviews that will say a book was too preachy and I question that statement and wonder if the reviewer was aware that they were reading CF. I think "preachy" is subjective, but personally , I want to see my characters acknowledging the Lord and the prompting of Holy Spirit. I enjoy knowing my characters pray and especially pray with one another. I rarely see that in Christian romance, but it thrills me when the H/h do. Isn't their faith supposed to be one of the things that draws or keeps them together? So often, I will read CF where the Christian message is veiled and only a believer will notice the subtlety. I understand that it's personal taste, but I like being the spiritual student and encouraged in my faith when I read CF. In addition, I enjoy some romantic passion, as well. A knock-your-socks off kiss is always welcome. :-)