Last Saturday, one week ago, already, I had the privilege of going to CFRR, and took my oldest daughter along. CFRR – Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat. I’ve been mulling over it all week. And still don’t know quite what all I want to say! I’d just like to say right off that this event, when I’d heard about it, just felt like a dream come true—a day for readers and some of their favorite authors to meet and chat—what fun!!
We’d been gone most of last week, family vacation, camping, so to think of leaving again, all day Saturday, I wasn’t sure that I was really in the mood. Our original plan had been that we’d go Friday evening, stay at the hotel overnight, but then we nixed that idea because of vacation week. I probably would’ve given it up altogether except for the fact that I’d already paid the admission fees for the two of us, and they were non-refundable.
So we decided we’d go. We had to leave home early, for a Saturday, that is. 7:00. We only had to go to Cincy, so it wasn’t too long of a drive…I think my daughter ended up sleeping a good part of the way.
When we arrived, we discovered there was a LINE out the front door of the hotel. What?! I’d had no idea it would be like this….! To give a quick mental picture—ladies, ladies, everywhere! I knew there were to be about 40 authors, plus a limited amount of readers, so maybe about 200 people at this event, and they were all standing in the hotel lobby, hallways, etc., just FULL of excitement!
Our first stop was the restroom, and to get there, we had to kind of push our way through the line of ladies, in a few different places, just to get to the restroom. (That was all the registration line) Yikes—I don’t care for crowds, just WHAT did we get ourselves in to. I (almost) felt like turning around and going home again!
So, after that stop, we went to the back of the line, which hadn’t moved very much from when we first saw it. We stood there and waited for awhile. Registration was supposed to be over at 9:00, but they didn’t quite meet that goal, I think too many of us waited ‘till the last minute! We visited with a few others waiting there. And felt sorry for hotel guests that were staying there that weekend, not involved with CFRR or having any idea of what was going on.
When we finally got through registration, we were each given a huge bag full of “swag”. Mostly stuffed with books! And then many other neat little paraphernalia items from publishers, authors, sponsors, etc.
Then we went into the designated conference room and took a seat. At this point I would’ve just liked to take the time to spread out my bag and examine it’s contents, a brief peek showed many interesting things, including one book that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile (I’ve had the kindle version, but I always prefer the actual paperback, so I was so excited to see this one—Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig)
We were told where to find our programs, and also to look for a candle, each of which had a certain label, to divide the group into teams for the day. We found which group we needed to join, and headed up towards the front to find seats with our new teammates.
One major highlight of the day was that we were hardly seated when my new seatmate said hi, and I took a look at her nametag- Jen Turano. ??!! (I knew I’d read some of her books already…but she wasn’t listed as a participating author of the day) During a quick intermission, I was able to ask her about her books, she handed us a flyer, and Natalyn said, “Oh, I LOVE your books!” (huge highlight for her!!) Jen gave us some autographed bookmarks, which we added to our swag bags.
There were many events planned throughout the day. (Beforehand, I thought maybe, if we’d get bored, we’d end up leaving before the end. Honestly, the day flew by so quickly, we didn’t even have time to get bored!) There was praise and worship sessions, panel discussions, topics by a few different authors, lunch break, games, giveaways, and so, so much going on!
To be in the midst of a group of people with similar love of reading is incredible. As Shelley Gray stated it, “My husband thinks there’s probably nobody else in the world that loves to read as much as I do.” And yes, my husband would probably say the same about me.
At lunch we were told to get our food and find people to eat with that we didn’t know. Natalyn stuck to me, and we ended up spending our lunch time visiting with four other ladies, and had a great time visiting!
There were speed chat sessions in which about 10 of the participating authors would make circles visiting with small groups of readers, and this gave a chance to get to know them just a little bit. This was very interesting to me! (I wish we’d have had time to do a quick meet like this with each one!)
One disappointment to me is that one of my favorite authors, Dani Pettrey, who was scheduled to be a speaker, was not able to be there due to health reasons. She made a brief appearance via facetime, for a demonstration she was to have done with Becky Wade. This was an interesting session. Becky shared a peek into her whole writing experience. She & Dani had made video clips throughout the previous year, to show different phases they encounter while writing a book. It was fun and informative. And then we were all given a paper, and through the use of M&Ms, given a quick basis for writing our own novel. My combination was to come up with a historical romance set in fictional Hollybrooke, involving an astrophysicist and a farmer. (I didn’t get very far! 😉 ) Several of the authors shared what they came up with, and Wow! I know why they are writers—they had very intriguing openings—I wanted to hear their actual stories!
Like I mentioned earlier, there were lots of giveaways throughout the day. I forgot to mention the “CFRR Stewards” earlier, but there were three ladies—Annie, Carrie, & Bonnie, (along with a few assistants) that planned this event. They were the ones that kept the day moving right along, moderated, did the giveaways, and just made it a really fun day overall! It was neat to have all those giveaways, and we kept hoping our names would be called, but they weren’t. Because we already had a huge bag of things, we were ok with that! : )
At the end, which was after 5:00, we were finally given time to do a bit of shopping (there was a small bookstore set up in the back of the room), and get autographs! Natalyn & I were able to get signatures from at least 5 or 6 authors! It was so much fun to visit with several of them! I was delighted to meet Ronie Kendig, I’ve read most of her books, and participated in launch teams for a few of them, and it was a real treat to speak with her in person!
I also discovered that one of our other seatmates, Cindy Thomson, is the author of a book that I’d had from the library in the past year, and really enjoyed—and she also lives in the central Ohio area!
It was so, so neat, to be able to see that authors, many of whom I’ve admired from afar and loved their books, are ordinary, down-to-earth people, and I greatly enjoyed the time we were able to spend chatting with a few of them!
The ride home went by quickly as we discussed our day. I loved being able to go and spend a day like this with my daughter, chatting about books is a great way to connect, even though we don’t like all the same books! 😉
Another highlight for her was that Jen Turano was the winner of one of the giveaways, and she then turned around and gave her bag to Natalyn, “I’m flying home, so I really don’t have room for this.” (Bless you, Jen—that was very special!)
When we got home, we spread out all our stuff, I went through and figured up the value of all the books we received, and if we’d have had to buy all of them, we would have spent more than our admission was for the day! That’s how generous all the participating authors and sponsors were!!
Well, this has gotten a bit lengthy…thanks so much if you stuck with me and read all of this.We’d love to go to this event next year, but it will probably be held at another location, last year they had it in Nashville, so we just don’t know if it will be possible or not…but anyway…if you are interested in going, please check with me, it would be fun to have friends going along with us to enjoy the day!
Also, I’d love to have my daughter share about the day from her point of view, so that might be posted here at a later date!
Be prepared for giveaways here on my blog in the future. I can’t wait to share some of my things with some of you all!