Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CFRR RECAP: Christian Fiction Readers Retreat


Julie, here, and I am:

An author.
A reader.
A Christian.

So … what happens when this CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) mixes all three together?


Sheer Heaven!

And, folks, that’s exactly what I (and 104 other lucky dawgs) experienced in Nashville on Wednesday, September 24th at the very first ever Christian Fiction Readers Retreat, otherwise know as CFRR!

The seeds of CFRR were first sown over three years ago when my dear friend Bonnie Roof and I talked about her deep desire to attend a retreat with some of her favorite authors where we could all just talk, laugh, and pray together. So we prayed about it.

  
May he give you the desire of your heart  
and make all your plans succeed. —Psalm 20:4

And, WHOA, did He!

Fast forward to early 2016 when three amazing bloggers—Bonnie Roof of 

Overcoming with God blog, Carrie Schmidt of Reading is my SuperPower blog, and Annie C. of Just Commonly blog—joined forces to launch an idea each of them had been thinking and praying about separately, unbeknownst to the others. With the kiss of anointing from God’s hand, CFRR was born—a one-day retreat with readers and authors to take place the day before the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. (Picture: L to R bottom -- Bonnie Roof, Carrie Schmidt. L to R top -- moi, Annie C., and Sydney Anderson of Singing Librarian Books blog.)

The theme? Honoring God through Christian Fiction.

And, WHOA, did we!

These three ladies and the Holy Spirit put together a one-day retreat so chock-full of blessings and amazing Author Speakers/Panelists/Attendees that I wanted to use my blog today to both recap and thank them for all of their hard work and effort. For me, the best way to do that is to simply elaborate via their excellent schedule below.

But first, just a few comments from some of the authors who took part AND a huge thank you to the following sponsors of CFRR: Bethany House, Books & Beverages, Gilead Publishing, Love Inspired, Pelican Book Group, Revell, Straight Off the Page, and Waterbrook Multnomah.

(Picture to the left are all Seeker CFRR authors with some hubbies.)

Janet Dean (Pucker Up Panelist, L to R on bottom row, 5th). “For me, the best part of the retreat was meeting readers, seeing their excitement at having an opportunity to connect with authors. They were like a breath of fresh air, a reminder that stories matter and connect us as human beings.”

Debby Giusti (Opening Prayer, L to R on bottom row, 2nd): “We were a group of sisters that day, laughing and sharing and touching each other’s lives. God was present. He was laughing too!”

Ruth Logan Herne (Speaker/Pucker Up Panelist, L to R on bottom row, 6th):
“I have one word for my experience working with the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat: Excitement. Those readers/bloggers/reviewers came armed with a love of God, a love of fiction and with an excitement I have never seen at any author/reader event before... and I've been to plenty!”

Mary Connealy (Speaker, L to R back row, middle):
"I LOVED IT! I had really never been to an event like that before. I felt like, by the end of that day, I'd had a chance to speak to every reader in that group. Also I loved the Christ focus of the day. The prayers and singing.”

Tamera Alexander (Speaker): "What a joy to attend CFRR! Meeting with readers is always a kick, and CFRR is all about the reader. The relationship shared with readers—that are developed as we take these novel journeys together—truly is one of the greatest blessings about writing. And CFRR is all about that experience! Already looking forward to next year."

Meghan Gorecki (Author Attendee):
"Despite the amount of introverts in one room, no one knew a stranger. One activity was Author Speed Chats/Dates. The authors would rush around to cluster groups and we'd have five or so minutes with them to ask them anything and get to know them better. SO fun!!” (Picture compliments of author Meghan Gorecki.)

And now …

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CFRR ATTENDEE
Scarritt Bennet Center in Nashville, Tennessee

9:00 AM:
Welcome/Breakfast: Annie, Bonnie, and Carrie shared all the miraculous ways that God blessed and intervened on behalf of CFRR from inception to conclusion while everyone chowed down on beverages, pastries, and fruit.

9:30 AM:
Opening Prayer: As those of you who have met auther Debby Giusti already know, she is a true intercessor and prays from the heart, so she began our day with the anointing of prayer.

Praise and Worship: Next, author Caryl McAdoo beautifully ushered us into the presence of God, setting the tone for a God connection that carried throughout the entire day. (L to R, Tamera Alexander, Julie Lessman, and Laura Frantz enjoying worship.)


9:45 AM: 
Speaker Session 1: Abbott and Costello … uh, I mean, Ruth Logan Herne and Mary Connealy kicked off the speaking sessions with encouragement and wisdom from their own writing careers, which wonderfully transitioned into a lively stand-up comedy routine when the moderators said they hadn’t used up their allotted time. Talk about comedic relief! Go, Mary and Ruthy!

10:30 AM
Speaker Session 2: Julie Lessman (moi) shared my testimony, which included things like dressing up as a nun to sneak into a free movie showing of Gone With the Wind when I was sixteen and wanting to burn Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms at the age of twenty-one … to winning the booby prize at ACFW and sharing the greatest spiritual lesson I ever learned following a sabbatical I took from writing. If you’re interested, you can read the testimony in its entirety at the end of my personal blog HERE.

Author Tamera Alexander followed with her personal testimony that encouraged every aspiring and published author in the room, sharing her own rocky road in writing for God, a message that culminated in a truly anointed speech that gave me goose bumps when it dove-tailed perfectly with mine, unbeknownst to either of us.

11:00 AM
Author Panel 1 (Moderated by Bonnie Roof):
Topic: You, Personally.

Authors (L to R) Carrie Turansky, Jennifer Slattery, Gabe Meyer, Laura Frantz, Jan Drexler,  and Myra Johnson answered the following questions from readers
 
1. What was the moment that you KNEW God had called you to write?
2. Do you ever get recognized when out in public (not at a book signing)?
3. What is the one thing from your real life and/or background be it family, education, faith, etc. that always comes into play when writing a book?
4. What's the funniest/weirdest thing that's happened to you on your writing journey?
5. What's the most enjoyable aspect of choosing writing as a career? Conversely, what's the hardest aspect of choosing writing as a career?
6. How did you decide to write in the genre you did?


11:45 AM
Prayer for Sick: We took a few moments to lay hands on those who were sick and beseech God on their behalf.

Lunch Break: WARNING: Do NOT read the following if you are hungry!! 

Imagine chatting with your favorite authors or reader friends in an elegant, high-ceiling, wood-paneled college faculty dining room that is abuzz with chatter and fun, dining on lemon rosemary chicken, orzo salad, lentils, yummy  grilled veggies, pita and hummus, various salads, and ice cream!

Soooooo fun!!!

1:00 PM
Afternoon Praise and Worship: Author Pepper Basham led the afternoon worship, calming our spirits and bringing God front and center once again. (L to R: Rachel Dixon, Melony Teague, and Pepper Basham.)

1:15 PM
Speaker Session 3: Author Laura Frantz, who calls herself the “Un-Author” because she doesn’t enter contests or spend much time on FaceBook or other social media, turned the tables on readers by asking them questions she solicited from authors such as the following: 
1. Do you prefer stand-alones or series? 
2. What's the biggest deciding factor for you when picking up a book from an unknown author?
3. Why is chocolate the international equalizer of all things wonderful?
4. Do you prefer more passion in your books-both spiritually and romantically-or less? (bet you can't guess which author asked this question??)
5. What is the most important thing a book must have for you to keep reading?

6. How do you prefer to interact with your favorite authors? Through social media, or via newsletters?
7. What are your favorite genres?

1:45 PM
Author Panel 2: (Moderated by MeezCarrie):
Topic: Pucker Up! (and, yes, paper fans were distributed in goodie bags on arrival)

Authors (L to R) Pepper D. Basham, Ruth Logan Herne, Melanie Dickerson, Janet Dean, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Julie Lessman answered the following questions with much humor, grace, and more than a few blushes!
1. Do you practice on your significant other to get the kissing scenes just right?
2. Speaking of just right, what elements do you think must be in the perfect fictional kiss?
3. What's your favorite kissing scene that you've written?
4. What are the challenges in writing godly love and passion without crossing over into lust?
5. Within your various publishers and genres, what are the parameters/guidelines/boundaries you must adhere to when writing kissing scenes?

2:30 PM
Speed Chats!! 
For me, one of the highlights of CFRR was the speed chat, which was basically speed dating, except with authors. In circles of three to five chairs, attendees were able to pepper authors with questions until the bell rang and a new author arrived in their circle. In addition, each attendee had a bingo card of sorts where they checked off the authors who came to their circle in an author bingo game with prizes.

I don’t know who had more fun during the speed chats — the attendees or authors Becky Wade, Brandy Heineman, Caryl McAdoo, Dani Pettrey, Gene Woods, Jean C. Gordon, Julie Lessman, Kara Isaac, Kate Breslin, Krista Phillips, Marie Wells Coutu, Mary Connealy, Mesu Andrews, Ruth Logan Herne, Shelley Shepard Gray, Susan Page Davis, and Tracey Lyons.

3:45 PM
Break / Snack: Caramelized Chex mix—To. Die. For!!

4:00 PM
Author Panel 3: (Moderated by Bonnie and MeezCarrie)
Topic: "Imaginary Friends"

Authors (L to R)  Carrie Fancett Pagels, Mesu Andrews, Dani Pettrey, Becky Wade, Kara Isaac, and Sarah Monzon were on the analyst couch for questions such as:  

1. Did you have imaginary friends as a child? 
2. If your characters could describe YOU as an author, what would they say? 
3. Has one of your characters ever embarrassed you?

4:45 PM
Closing Praise and Prayers: Author Melony Teague announced the Grand Prize Winner and closed the day with more uplifting worship and prayer. (Pic: Melony Teague and moi)

5:00 PM
Personal Prayer Times: Anyone who wanted to could sign up for personal prayer in author groups of one or more, which was pretty timely for those wanting a little extra favor and grace when pitching at ACFW. 

5:15 PM
Book Signing!! Talk about books, books, books!! Attendees could buy books from a special "store" set up by 21st Century Christian Bookstore of Nashville OR bring their own to have authors sign. (Pic to the right: Ruth Logan Herne)

All in all, it was one of the most anointed and intimate events I have ever been to, and I encourage anyone who would like to receive information on the 2017 CFRR (when it’s available) to sign up at the CFRR website at http://christianfictionreadersretreat.blogspot.com/.

A FEW CFRR GOODIE BAGS STILL AVAILABLE!!
If you’re interested, you can find more information at CFRR Goodie Bags. Goodie bags generally contain the following:

Goo Goo bar, package of trail mix (with Mary Connealy's book cover), bag of M&M's (with Ruthy's Finn logo), 3 Tootsie Roll Pops tied together with Janet Dean's book cover, a red heart-shaped stress ball with Annie's blog logo on it, pin with Carrie's blog logo, magnet with Dani Pettrey's book cover, sticky note pad with Jan Drexler's web site, 4 pens from authors (in addition to the CFRR logo pen), note pad from Kate Breslin, author business cards, 2 door hangers, 12 author postcards (1 with the tea bag from Carrie Turansky, another with a pack of flower seeds from Tracey Lyons), 24 bookmarks, a postcard from Marie Wells Coutu with a huge button, and a framed quote from Isle of Hope.


GIVEAWAY!!
Today the giveaway is what I gave away at CFRR — signed paperback or e-copies of A Passion Most Pure, A Light in the Window, and Isle of Hope, plus a framed quote from Isle of Hope, so leave a comment to be in the draw!  (Pic compliments of Annie C. of Just Commonly)

192 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Julie....Isle of Hope is in paperback? AWESOME! On my wish list at Amazon. My heart almost stopped as I read what a fun time you had at the readers retreat. I'd have loved to answer the authors questions! I love stand alone books, but I love them in a series! Oh well, I shouldn't have stayed up late just so I could read your blog at Seekerville today. I'll have trouble going to sleep and I ponder on the day you had in Nashville! Thank you for sharing!

Trixi said...

I'm really trying hard not to be jealous of those who attended CFRR, but doggone it, it's hard not to!! :-) All that wonderfulness of being up close and personal with some of my favorite authors, sharing in worship, prayer, fun questions, good food and lots & lots of laughter! What a fun time it sounds like.

Thanks for sharing such a fun post and all the pictures, I can live it through them :-) And just for the fun of it, toss my name in the fun hat for the giveaway! Even though I have a copy of Isle of Hope, I know just the fun person to pass it on to.

Notice the word of the day?? FUN...haha!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Whoa! And a great time was had by all.

CFRR Ladies, you rocked it!!! WOOOT!!!

bonton said...

JULIE, thank you so much for your wonderful post on our CFRR - and a huge thanks to you and the other Seekers for your prayers, encouragement, contributions, promo, and participation in CFRR!! We appreciate it more than you know.

CFRR was truly a perfect day - filled with fellowship, praise/prayer/worship, books, fun activities, excitement, inspiration, encouragement, and joy for both readers and authors. Which is exactly what we wanted it to be. My heart has been touched by each of the many wonderful comments about CFRR I've read in the last 3 weeks - and continue to read, I'm grateful authors enjoyed CFRR and were encouraged and inspired by it, along with the readers - and am so honored and blessed God allowed me to be one of the organizers and participants in it!!

Debby Giusti wrote a wonderful Reader's Prayer which was prayed by all at CFRR, fit readers so perfectly, and was also included in each of the CFRR swag bags. Many Seeker books were among the frequent giveaways during the day, as well as the 2 Grand Prize giveaways. For anyone interested in the very few swag bags that are left - in addition to the other items listed in Julie's post, there is also a minimum of 3 books in each bag, as well as a cute foldable purse fan that was used during the "Pucker-Up" panel.

I'd love to see each Seeker and Villager at the next CFRR!!

bonton said...

TINA - thank you so much for your gracious comments!!

Elaine Stock said...

This was the greatest writer/reader event I've ever attended. It was professional, fun, and wrapped in His love. My only regret, after seeing these pics with names, is wishing I'd realized a few more folks were there that I would have enjoyed meeting one on one. Well then, there will have to be another one!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm with Elaine on this: I want more CFRRS!!!!!!!!

Best time ever and the excitement (I said that, didn't I???), enthusiasm and love of God in that room was electric. And so fun!!!

Debby's prayer manifested itself in my heart while she was praying, and throughout the day... it was soulful and heartfelt and beautiful.

Abbott and Costello!!!

I'm still laughing because The Connealy had it ALL MAPPED OUT the day before... and I said, I think they want us to be funny...

And she said "I've got my notes."

And I said, "But they want us to kind of work together... Like be us."

And she said, "But I work alone." (or something like that, nicely!!!)

And I said, "Well, let's just see how it rolls... but I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be funny...."

AND IT WAS FUNNIER than we could have ever planned it! I love Connealy to the moon and back and what a privilege it is to call her friend, colleague and sister in Christ.

She is an absolute blessing to so many.

Sharing the microphones with her was an absolute highlight in my life.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

BONNIE!!!!!

BEST DAY EVER.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And not for nothin', the BACK OF MY HAIR looks great in the photo!!!!! I consider that a victory for womankind.

Cindy W. said...

Oh my gosh! CFRR looks and sounds like it was a wonderful time shared by all. Hopefully, this is the start of an annual event.

Many Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Wow! What a great experience for both the readers and writers. Thanks for the terrific recap, Julie!

Jackie said...

Hi Julie, thanks for sharing the fun. It looks like you all had a wonderful time!

Julie Lessman said...

GOOD MORNING, ONE AND ALL!!

I am sitting out on my veranda in the pitch dark, smiling at all the comments AND the memories of one of the best days I've ever had!!

The only thing I wish right now is that we had that AMAZING continental breakfast I snarfed down at CFRR ... WAIT ... this is cyberspace, where I CAN have that wonderful breakfast with pastries galore and ... okay, I'll take a little fruit too ... ;)

Bonnie, Annie, and Carrie -- I love and appreciate you guys SOOOOOOO much!! Thank you for taking the bull by the horns (sorry, it's too early in the morning for me to be original) and giving Christian fiction something it has craved for a long, long time.

In fact, the FHL loop had been talking about how great it would be to have an author/reader retreat BEFORE someone on the loop brought up CFRR and how they were attending (wish it had been me, but alas, it wasn't, although I did pipe up, I believe. :)

Okay, ladies -- out of the way -- I'm heading for the pastry table and I need coffee BAD!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Kate said...

Thanks for the recap. It sounds like so much fun!

And thanks for the giveaway!!!!!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MARIANNE, how I wish you could have been there!! Not only would I have LOVED to meet you (battling a wee bit of jealousy here that Tina gets to see you every year!!), but you would have SO enjoyed the day with fellow Canadian authors like Susan Mason and Melony Teague, two sweethearts that I absolutely LOVE!!

And, YES, IOH has been out in paperback since last November, and I plan to do the same with book 2, Love Everlasting, which releases in ebook in two weeks. (Shameless plugs allowed before 7:00 AM in the morning.) ;)

You know what would be SUPER fun??? A Seeker retreat with authors and Seeker friends. Okay, that needs to go on my prayer list ...

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TRIXI, I hear you, girlfriend -- this would make me royally jealous, too, if I hadn't been there, so apparently God figured YOU could handle it and this CDQ couldn't ... ;)

Yes, I will admit it was pretty amazing, but then with prayer teams praying for months for the outcome, what do we expect??? Apparently not enough because I was truly blown away by His blessings on this event and its attendees!!

Hugs and you're in the draw, my friend@

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TINA, yes, they sure did "rock it" to the moon and back, but as I told Trixi above, Annie, Bonnie, and Carrie left no stone unturned by creating prayer teams to pray months in advance, which obviously worked BIG TIME!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE!!! I should have known you would be up this late, my friend, but hopefully you're sleeping soundly now.

And I couldn't agree more -- CFRR truly WAS a "perfect day"!! How three gals who never met before could put together such an event so beautifully is truly a testament to God's grace and favor.

And one of my very favorite parts of CFRR and ACFW??? Spending time with YOU, my sweet friend!!

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ELAINE!!! Sooooo good to see you there, my friend, and I totally agree about not getting to meet everyone I would have liked to. But the day was a blur to me -- a beautiful blur, but a blur nonetheless and was over before I even realized it. :( WHICH is one of the reasons why I wanted to do this post today -- to relive the magic. Correction: to relive the anointing!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, RUTHY ... I think you two have a 2nd career if you want it as stand-up comics, so I'm glad you needed to fill time because fill it you did, with wonderful laughter and fun!!

I think the event was videotaped, or at least I hope so because that is one video I would LOVE to see!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, RUTHY ... I thought the same thing about how cute your hair looked, so glad we have that shot for all posterity!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY, I sure hope so because that is one retreat I would LOVE to attend each year, so we'll just have to pray #2 in ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

You're welcome, Jill, but it actually was Tina's idea based on feedback from a survey she took, so she gets all the credit, but I got all the fun. Not fair, I know, but I'm not arguing with God, you know? ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

It was, JACKIE, and I sure wish you could have been there. And I missed you at ACFW, didn't I?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KATE, it definitely was, so thanks for coming by to relive it with us!

Here's to a win, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

DebH said...

Soooooooo bummed I could not go to CFRR. It sounds AWESOME. Anyone have recordings of the panels (particularly Abbot & Costello? They crack me up here in the comments section when they show up) I'd be all over that.

Someday I'll get to meet Seeker Ladies in person. Heartfelt wish, if only to give big hugs of thanks for all you mean to us Villagers.

DebH said...

p.s. Big thanks for the recap and opportunity to get jealous, btw. The ladies did an awesome job coordinating the event. YAY them!

Glynna Kaye said...

Looks like SO MUCH FUN, Julie! Readers rock! Thank you for sharing with those of us who didn't get to go. I think, though, you need to also share the ANSWERS to author Laura Frantz's questions directed at the readers! That's stuff authors need to know! :)

ohiohomeschool said...

WOW! So much fun. Wish I could have been there. What a great event.

Thanks for the recap. It gave me a feel for the conference.
Becky B.

Cindy Regnier said...

It sounds like so much fun. Thanks for telling us about it, Julie. I sure hope I get to meet you in person someday. I'm betting you talk as fun as you write!

Kim @ SimplyChicatHome said...

Sounds like a fun, I would have loved to have gone and meet Julie Lessman!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

What a fun day that must have been! I love how the authors and readers were able to engage in such personable ways. And the food sounds like it was to-die-for delicious!! :)

Thanks for sharing this, Julie!

Joyce said...

Sounds like so much fun! Authors fill my life with good things so I love to meet and connect with any of you when I can. You are a blessing to this reader!

Wilani Wahl said...

I really wanted to be there so it is so much fun to read about it today. Hoping there will be more and that some day I can attend. Please enter me for your giveaway.

Kav said...

Sqqqqqqqqquuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaalllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesomesauce!!!!! Even though I'm fighting the green-eyed monster like Trixi. LOL So wish I could have been there. Such a brilliant idea and it's amazing how it all came together so beautifully. Thank you for sharing the day with those of us would couldn't go. I'd love to know how the organizers came up with all those great ideas. The speed-dating type event is sheer brilliance. Do you remember any of the questions people asked? And did you end up answering the same questions as you went from group to group?

No need to enter me in the draw. I have all your books. :-)

Leslie McKee said...

Thanks for sharing, Julie! It sounds like this was a fabulous event. I'm so sorry that I missed it. I agree with Trixi. It's hard not to be jealous. I'm glad I could experience it through this post. If it was videotaped, I'd certainly love to see it!

Please throw my name in the drawing. Thanks!

Julia Buzard said...

Julie, It was so wonderful to meet you and so many other fabulous authors. As I told Annie at the end of the day it was (with the exception of maybe the birth of my children) the best day I can remember! I came home and told my family "I found my people!) Already looking forward to next year! Thanks for being a part of this!

Dana McNeely said...

I love the idea of rushing around to clusters of readers and getting to chat with them - hear their perspectives and reactions and answer any questions. What a great opportunity to relate in person.

Edwina said...

This event sounds like it was fabulous! Thank you Julie for sharing the details.

Julie Lessman said...

DEB, believe me -- we're "soooooooo bummed" you could not go to CFRR, too , my friend, because we'd LOVE to meet you in person too!

And, yes, I think there will be a video of all speakers, I hope, because I know there was some videotaping going on, so fingers crossed! And there's always next year, yes??

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Caryl Kane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Lessman said...

DEB SAID: "p.s. Big thanks for the recap and opportunity to get jealous, btw. The ladies did an awesome job coordinating the event. YAY them!"

LOL ... yes, Annie, Bonnie, and Carrie (otherwise known as the ABCs) DID do an awesome job, so YAY THEM, indeed!

Although I'm not sure I'm too thrilled that I incited "jealousy" in a fellow Christian. Yikes ... could be a little bit of a millstone around my neck, and I've never been a very good swimmer ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, GLYNNA!

You said: "I think, though, you need to also share the ANSWERS to author Laura Frantz's questions directed at the readers! That's stuff authors need to know! :)"

LOL ... soooo true, and if we can get our hands on a video like we hope ... we'll be sure to share the wealth. ;)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BECKY, I'm soooo glad I could "give you a feel for the conference," which is what I wanted to do, along with Myra's excellent post on her experiences at the ACFW Conference yesterday that I encourage you to check out if you missed it.

Hugs and good luck in the contest!
Julie

Caryl Kane said...

WOW! The CFRR RETREAT looks like it was INCREDIBLE! Thank you for sharing your experience. Annie, took amazing photos! I'm HOPING for a CFRR in Dallas 2017!

Have a WONDER-filled Wednesday! (((((HUGS)))))

Please enter me in the drawing.

Mary Connealy said...

It was a completely unique experience.
I just had such a great time talking to READERS. Authors are able to gather together with other AUTHORS through local meetings and national conferences and that's such a blessing...people who speak your language.

But READERS. It's so rare to get together with them. I loved the 'Speed Dating' part. I loved lunch with a table of readers. I loved the worship and the speeches.
I loved getting to know Bonnie, Carrie and Annie better and signing with Melony Teague on one side and Melanie Dickerson on the other. Just a wonderful, uplifting, blessed day.
There just was no part I didn't love

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY SAID: "Thanks for telling us about it, Julie. I sure hope I get to meet you in person someday. I'm betting you talk as fun as you write!"

LOL, Cindy, I sure hope I get to meet you in person someday, too, because I'll bet you are as sweet as you seem!! And, yeah, I'm not too sure how "fun" I am in person, but I will say that what you see with my writing is definitely what you get in person, albeit cranked up a few levels, so tranquilizers are always a good thing for those that meet me so I don't scare them away ... ;)

I know, I know, everybody's thinking that I'M the one who should be on tranquilizers, and you're not far wrong. The year my son got married in Omaha and we held a St. Louis reception a month later in our house for 150 people, I also threw a big graduation party for my daughter's high school graduation, signed a 3-book deal with deadlines, and my husband was remodeling our basement from scratch for over three months to accommodate the reception. Needless to say, I was a wee bit stressed.

So my doc put me on a very mild tranquilizer just to get me through for a few months, which I absolutely HATED!! When I told her I wanted to get off of it after everything was done, she scrunched her nose and said, "Mmmm, I think I'd rather see you stay on it." "But I don't feel normal," I told her, complaining I felt like a zombie." "Well, actually, Julie, you're more normal on it because now you're calmer and more like other people," she told me, and I remember saying something like, "Well, if that's normal, then you can keep it."

So I remain abnormally, forever a CDQ!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KIM SAID: "Sounds like a fun, I would have loved to have gone and meet Julie Lessman!"

AW, and I would have LOVED to meet you, too, Kim, so maybe in the future???

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

You're more than welcome, JEANNE -- it was my pleasure to share.

And you are absolutely right -- the food was "to-die-for delicious!! :)"

I know, because my plate at lunch looked like Mt. Everest ...

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JOYCE SAID: "Sounds like so much fun! Authors fill my life with good things so I love to meet and connect with any of you when I can. You are a blessing to this reader!"

AMEN AND AMEN, Joyce, because "authors fill my with good things" too! I may be an author, but I still read about six to eight books a month, so I'm right there with you, my friend. :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WILANI ... trust me, girlfriend, I'm not just "hoping" you'll be able to go someday, I'm PRAYING you will be able to, so keep your eyes up, sweetie, because He's reallllll good at answering unlikely prayers!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
Julie

Ashley said...

Sounds like a great time. It's always nice to get away and be uplifted! Thanks for the giveaway!

bonton said...

RUTHY, thank you for your sweet comments about CFRR - I SO agree, it truly was the BEST DAY EVER!! Preceded by prayer for months by numerous people, it far exceeded all I had prayed it would be - He is faithful!!

True, the time you and Mary spent speaking was even more hilarious than you had planned-and just what we wanted it to be, thank you so much!! It so added to all the already-present excitement, and started the speeches off "with a bang". You and Mary were BOTH blessings to everyone present, and as you commented - "the excitement, enthusiasm, and love of God was electric" at CFRR, and "so fun". Meeting and spending time with the two of you was definitely one of the highlights of my time spent in Nashville.

And yes, the back of your hair IS beautiful in the pic Julie shared in her post, LOL!!

Julie Lessman said...

KAV!!! Girlfriend, YOU were one of the main people I would have LOVED to meet, so I am disappointed you didn't make it this year, but I'm holding out hope for the future, because YOU, of all people, deserved to be there with all the wonderful reviews you do for Christian fiction!!

As far as how the Annie, Bonnie, and Carrie came up with all the great ideas, I'll leave it to them to answer that question, but I can certainly address your curiosity about the speed chats.

First off, they were AWESOME, a wonderful opportunity to get to know people in small snatches of time. Some of my circles asked questions, but mostly I just launched into what my latest book was about (which was listed on a bingo-like card the group had to to check off whenever a certain author sat down), which always prompted questions.

I have to say the best experience I had during speed chat was meeting with a group that included Julia Buzard, a sweet Seeker commenter I was privileged to meet) and a mother/daughter duo who I thought had been scowling at me every time I got to the podium, both during my testimony speech and the Pucker Up panel. For some reason, I got it in my mind that the mom didn't like me or want her daughter to read any of my books because she maybe thought they were too sensual. Believe me, I've had many cases like this, so maybe that's why the scowls they gave me triggered that insecurity.

Anyway, when I sat down in their circle, I immediately launched into an explanation that although my books were more romantically passionate than most in the CBA, I felt they were also more spiritually passionate than most in the CBA, so it was a good balance for the right reader. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the mother reached across the circle to thank me for sharing my testimony with a glaze of tears in her eyes, telling me she thought we could be good friends because our backgrounds were so similar.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I turned to her daughter, who was sixteen, and started babbling that my books were all about purity and how to retain it in our amoral world. That sweet girl immediately thrust her hand forward, eyes gleaming as bright as the purity ring on her finger. I am happy to report that both mom and daughter are now friends who actually bought a number of my books, so trust me when I say you truly can't judge a book by its cover. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

bonton said...

DEB H, thank you for your kind comments about CFRR, I'm "bummed" also - that you didn't get to attend CFRR, I would love to have met you!! Saying a prayer you're able to make it next year.

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, JULIE, you really covered it all! How fun to relive the day through your descriptions and photos! It truly was a special, uplifting, and truly memorable day! I hope and pray that these dear ladies (and anyone else who feels led to join the effort) will make this an annual tradition. BONNIE, CARRIE, and ANNIE, you are amazing!!!

Julie Lessman said...

LESLIE!! Like I told Kav above, YOU are one of the gals that should have been there, my friend, because you do so much for Christian fiction with your excellent reviews.

I met Melissa Parcel at ACFW, so I hope to meet you someday there in the future as well. And I'm hoping we'll have videotapes to share in the future.

Hugs!!
Julie

LeAnne Bristow said...

It sounds like it was an amazing weekend!

Julie Lessman said...

JULIA!!! It was SUCH a pleasure to meet you, my friend, and I look forward to doing so again.

You said: "As I told Annie at the end of the day it was (with the exception of maybe the birth of my children) the best day I can remember! I came home and told my family "I found my people!) Already looking forward to next year! Thanks for being a part of this!"

YES, YES, YES, you HAVE "found your people," my friend, and I we are BEYOND honored to rank up there close to the "best day you can remember" -- WOW!!! High praise, indeed!!

SO glad I sat down in your speed-chat circle, Julia, and hopefully will again down the road.

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DANA SAID: "I love the idea of rushing around to clusters of readers and getting to chat with them."

That's exactly how I felt, Dana, and I sure wish you could have been there too. :|

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

EDWINA!!! It definitely was, although it could have been a lot better if I'd gotten to see you again, my sweet friend!!

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CARYL!!!! Yes, it was truly "INCREDIBLE" and I sure hope you are able to come in the future because YOU are such a staunch supporter of Christian Fiction, my friend, so praying you get to come someday.

Do you live close to Dallas?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "It was a completely unique experience."

You nailed it, Mare, because it truly was. Nothing like it before, but hopefully after ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

You are MORE than welcome, Ashley, and thanks for coming by to check it out. Here's hoping for a win, so GOOD LUCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Well, MYRA, I knew I was following your ACFW recap, so I knew I needed to be on my top game, so I relieved the day while I wrote it, and it was a real blessing to write.

And I totally echo what you said -- BONNIE, CARRIE, and ANNIE, you are amazing!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LeANNE, it definitely was, and I hope you can attend one in the future, my friend.

Good luck in the contest!!

Hugs,
Julie

CatMom said...

LOVED this re-cap of that very special day, sweet Julie.
It truly was a memorable day for me and I loved every minute!
And I'm super appreciative to you, the other participating authors, AND of course precious Bonnie, Annie, and Carrie S. - - WOW!! I'm looking forward to attending future CFRRs and plan to let others know about this amazing event. :)

On a *very personal note* I must add that the main highlight of my day was a wonderful author (who happens to be named Julie Lessman) praying with me. You will never know how MUCH that meant to me.

Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Janet Dean said...

JULIE, so fun to see this recap of the CFRR and all the terrific photos!!! The day was a huge blessing with loads of fun, fellowship, worship and prayer, along with some awesome speeches and testimonies. I loved every minute of it, especially meeting readers! The book bag each of us got is first class! Another highlight was the privilege of sitting down to lunch with Jan Drexler at a table of readers and one young woman writer. Thank you again, BONNIE, ANNIE and CARRIE, for all the work and prayer that went into providing this wonderful day.

Janet

Kelly Goshorn said...

Julie, this sounds like a great deal of fun. Ahhh, so many wonderful authors, so little time. Would have given anything to hear the Pucker-Up panel at work. I enjoyed our visit.

bonton said...

KAV, the planning of program activities for CFRR was a joint effort between Annie, Carrie, and myself. The questions for some of the panels were compiled from those obtained from readers and authors prior to the event. Unknown to me when Annie and I teamed up to plan CFRR, and very shortly after added Carrie - Annie had had some event planning experience, which was a HUGE help and the importance of which I can't emphasize enough. I'm still in awe at all she and Carrie both did in helping to bring about CFRR. Another example of God's hand being in the planning of CFRR from even before He put the vision in my heart over 3 years ago - He knit the three of us together so perfectly in the planning of CFRR. That being said, we couldn't have done it without the overwhelming encouragement, prayers, participation, and contributions from the authors involved - another huge blessing. However, for the record, the credit for the speed chats is one that belongs to Annie.

I'm praying for your healing and presence at the next CFRR!!

Caryl Kane said...

JULIE, I live 6 hours South of Dallas. I would LOVE join those "lobby lurkers" in their quest to spot our favorite authors. *wink*

Andrea Stephens said...

I saw a bunch pictures from this event. I wished I could have gone. I did buy one of the leftover CFFR bags with 3 books in it. All edible goodies were removed due to possible melting problems. I got the pens, a lot of author cards and bookmarks.
I'd love a chance to win another book for my bag or my kindle.

bonton said...

MARY, so touched by your comments: "a completely unique experience, there just was no part I didn't love, just a wonderful, uplifting, blessed, day". Amen, thank you so much for your part in making it so!! It was such an honor and pleasure to meet and spend time with you!!

bonton said...

JULIE - Ditto, the three of us so love and appreciate you for all you've done for CFRR, beginning with your prayers over three years ago!! SO happy it was one of the best days ever for you, it definitely was for me!!

bonton said...

MYRA - so grateful CFRR was a "special, uplifting, truly memorable day' for you!! Thanks so much for your part in it - for the record, you're pretty "amazing" also. Such a joy to meet and spend time with you!!

Debby Giusti said...

Great recap of CFRR, Julie! I want to go back to Nashville and relive the entire week! So special! So fun!

Just wanted to give a huge thank you to my wonderful publisher, Love Inspired Books. LI provided 115 copies of my current release, PLAIN TRUTH, so every attendee got the book in his/her goody bag! I was touched and honored by their generosity!

A BIG, BIG, BIG THANK YOU goes to Bonnie and Annie and Carrie for all their hard work to make their reader retreat dream come true. It was that for me...a dream come true. Ladies, you're an amazing team. Every detail was planned and orchestrated so beautifully. The day was perfect ...a graced moment in time that overflowed with love!

bonton said...

JANET - thanks for your sweet comments!! It's such a joy to know you and other authors enjoyed meeting and spending time with readers at CFRR, I speak on behalf of all readers attending - including myself - in expressing what a blessing it was for us to have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with you and each of the other authors present at CFRR. I pray there are many more readers who have the opportunity to do so at future CFRR's!! So glad you enjoyed the book bag - thanks for providing some of the goodies placed in those bags, and for your support and participation in CFRR!!

Beth Erin said...

Julie! Great recap! When you recognized me as I walked in the door (after driving 4 hours and my first experience with Nashville traffic, ack!) and gave me a big 'ol hug, I just knew the day was going to exceed all my expectations and it did!

I want to give everyone who couldn't be there a big cyber hug here and say I wish you could have been there too! It was so much more than fangirling over our favorite authors and meeting internet friends for the first time in person. CFRR was sisters in Christ encouraging one another and glorifying God with our worship and fellowship and He was present that day.

There was ice cream??? I was on such a book buzz that I hardly ate anything! Who needs food when you can talk to Ruthy, Mary, Julie, Laura, Pepper, and obviously I'm a little starved for adult interaction anyway but really, I was just full of love that day!

Please put me in the draw for your beautiful books, Julie! I love them and I will give them a good home on my shelf ;)

Beth Erin said...

Bonnie, Carrie, and Annie and their volunteers did a fabulous job with the logistics of the day. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual which made it much easier for all of us introverts to muster up our bravery for social interaction! I can't thank the "Stewards of CFRR" enough, what a blessing!!!

bonton said...

DEBBY - exactly my sentiments, I'd love to relive my entire week in Nashville, yes- it was "so special, so fun"!! Annie, Carrie, and I were truly touched and overwhelmed by the generosity of Love Inspired, as well as that of other publishers who also provided books for each CFRR attendee. Another example of God's many provisions for CFRR!! Thank you so much for the beautiful "Readers Prayer" you wrote and provided for all at CFRR, your personal prayers, and all else you did to help make CFRR such a success. I'm tearing up at your comments - such a perfect description of CFRR, and exactly what we prayed it would be: "A dream come true, the day was perfect...a graced moment in time that overflowed with love!"

Kathryn Barker said...

Thanks, Julie, for sharing--with awe-inspiring enthusiasm-- this extraordinary experience!!! Certainly is on my bucket list!! And, your idea..."You know what would be SUPER fun??? A Seeker retreat with authors and Seeker friends. Okay, that needs to go on my prayer list ..." sounds like it could be another epic event!! Hoping it gets planned and initiated!!

As always...the comments are delightful!! Such a fun group here on Seekerville!!

I have all your books...so I'll be cheering for all other entrants!

Have a tea-riffic day everyone!!

Winnie Thomas said...

I've loved all the posts and pictures about the CFRR! I really hope I can go next year (assuming that Carrie, Bonnie and Annie have recovered enough to plan another one)! The sense of love and camaraderie among all that attended is so wonderful to see. Thanks for your post, your enthusiasm, and for sharing your time, your talents and your joy with everyone. And thanks for the chance to win some of your books!

Thea Colebank said...

Wow! That looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the pictures!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Julie, where was that top picture taken? That wasn't Nashville, was it???

Julie Lessman said...

PATTI JO!!!

Oh, honey, trust me -- praying with you was a true highlight of my day as well, my friend, and I am SOOOO excited to see the fruits of that prayer and all the others that you and others have prayed on your behalf.

I want to be among the FIRST to hear good news, you hear???

Hugs and more hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, JANET, and I totally agree -- the goodie bag each of us got was truly first class and the best I've ever received at any event, bar none!

You said: "Another highlight was the privilege of sitting down to lunch with Jan Drexler at a table of readers and one young woman writer."

Yes, I have to say another highlight for me was speaking (no matter how brief) with Jan Drexler as well. Gosh, the woman has SUCH a calming effect on me, which I can't say about everybody, so THANK YOU, JAN!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KELLY!!!

Girlfriend, HOW I wish you had been there, but fingers crossed for down the road, okay? And at least we got to spend some quality time together, which I truly cherished, so THANK YOU for taking the time to do that.

Hugs and more hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE SAID: "However, for the record, the credit for the speed chats is one that belongs to Annie."

ANNIE ROCKS!!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Bonnie! It's all about the hair!!!! :) BIG GRIN!!!!

You know, my prayer is that this idea takes on a life of its own. I think every one of our publishers should be calling these gals and saying "Hey... can you organize one of these for Seattle? For Denver? For Joliet? For Omaha? For St. Louis? For ROCHESTER OR BUFFALO????

Because this is exactly what authors want and readers love... the chance to be together, to glean ideas, share prayers and just be people.

HOW WONDERFUL WOULD THAT BE????

I'm sending this to all my publishers because this is a no brainer.... This is the kind of bandwagon that should be jumped on, lassoed and re-used again and again!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Julie + Tranquilizers = I'm not sure what.

I LOVE THE REAL DEAL.

God made you the way you are. And you are beloved just as you are, my friend.

Julie Lessman said...

CARYL, I would LOVE to lobby lurk with you, too, although I will warn you -- sound decibels will be WAY higher than "lurking" level and the hugs will be more than real and as excessive as our emails and comments, girlfriend!!!!

((((((( HUGS ))))))))))))
Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Have I mentioned that Beth Erin is just as lovely and delightful as she seems???

If I haven't mentioned that, allow me to do so at this juncture, darlings. :)

Julie Lessman said...

ANDREA ... good for you, girlfriend, for snatching up one of those great goodie bags!!

Now ... you just need to win my three books today so you can use those bookmarks effectively, eh?

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY SAID: "Just wanted to give a huge thank you to my wonderful publisher, Love Inspired Books. LI provided 115 copies of my current release, PLAIN TRUTH, so every attendee got the book in his/her goody bag! I was touched and honored by their generosity! The day was perfect ...a graced moment in time that overflowed with love!"

YES, that was HUGE on LI's part, Deb, and SUCH a blessing to everyone who attended, so MEGA THANKS to LI!!

The day WAS "perfect," wasn't it? And truly "a graced moment in time that overflowed with love!" BEAUTIFUL way to put it, Deb!

Hugs,
Julie


Kav said...

BONNIE:

Thanks for the further insights. Sigh. It sounds like such an amazing day and I can't even begin to imagine the amount of hours your ladies put into it before hand. Were you nervous you might not get enough attendees? Over 100 is awesome!!!!!!! I'm nosey -- how did you choose the venue? And how did you get the publishers involved? I wonder what they thought -- since they weren't sure what the event would be like and how many readers it would reach. Did anyone from the publishing or ACFW side swing by to see what all the fuss was about?

Julie Lessman said...

BETH SAID: "There was ice cream???"

LOL ... YES, there was, my sweet friend, but like you, I didn't get any either, because I was on a book and reader buzz, too!!

YOU ALSO SAID: "Julie! Great recap! When you recognized me as I walked in the door (after driving 4 hours and my first experience with Nashville traffic, ack!) and gave me a big 'ol hug, I just knew the day was going to exceed all my expectations and it did!"

LOL ... you have NO IDEA what a compliment that is, Beth, because I generally don't recognize ANYBODY at first because when I get excited, I'm in a state that my husband calls "ON," which means all the energy and electricity is going straight to the mouth and arms (as in hugs) instead of the brain. But I lit up even more when I saw you, kiddo, which was a big hint to me, too, that it was going to be a VERY AMAZING day, and it was!!

Hugs,
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

All I really did was listen to whatever Ruthy said and make fun of it.

That's just soooooooooooooooooooo easy.

FYI I was internally heckling every speaker....but had some doubts about whether speaking up was appropriate. so I could've done THAT all day.

Yes, Julie I controlled myself. YOU'RE WELCOME

Julie Lessman said...

KATHRYN, YES!!! Let's all start praying for a Seeker/Seeker friend get-together of some kind, and you know what??? We could do it at a future CFRR because that is the perfect environment for the intimacy of godly friendships!!

Thanks, Kath, for reading my books, you sweet thing -- SO appreciate that!!

Hugs,
Julie

Debby Giusti said...

Bonnie, can you feel me hugging you from afar? Hope you feel my prayers too. God planted you in my heart at CFRR. He sometimes gives me special people to carry and to love. That's you, dear Bonnie! Your need is always on my lips heading heaven bound. When two or more are gathered...that includes in cyber space. We are united in Spirit, and my hand is always on your shoulder as I pray unceassingly to the Lord on your behalf.

Hugs and love!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WINNIE, I would absolutely LOVE to see you there in the future, my friend!! I don't think I've been able to hug you in person yet, so we need to remedy that, yes??

Hugs and more hugs!!
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

Bonton, I had as much fun meeting you as you could possibly have had meeting me.
What a great day.

You ladies running it were just so special and so energized and thinking outside the box and I could feel the hand of God guiding the day.

Julie Lessman said...

My pleasure, THEA ... just like it will be to send you three books and a frame if you win, so GOOD LUCK, my friend!!

HUGS,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY, no -- that was taken at good ol' Lake of the Ozarks on one of Keith's and my walks. Uh ... when we used to walk ... ;)

Wait ... does Nashville have a river??? I don't remember ...

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "You know, my prayer is that this idea takes on a life of its own. I think every one of our publishers should be calling these gals and saying "Hey... can you organize one of these for Seattle? For Denver? For Joliet? For Omaha? For St. Louis? For ROCHESTER OR BUFFALO????

Because this is exactly what authors want and readers love... the chance to be together, to glean ideas, share prayers and just be people.

HOW WONDERFUL WOULD THAT BE????"

YES, YES, YES, YES!!! And if anybody can get this buggy across the river, it's you, darlin', so GO, RUTHY!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "Julie + Tranquilizers = I'm not sure what.

I LOVE THE REAL DEAL.

God made you the way you are. And you are beloved just as you are, my friend."

LOL ... thanks, Ruthy, I feel exactly the same way about you, my friend. No question both of us are "the real deals," eh?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "All I really did was listen to whatever Ruthy said and make fun of it.

That's just soooooooooooooooooooo easy.

FYI I was internally heckling every speaker....but had some doubts about whether speaking up was appropriate. so I could've done THAT all day.

Yes, Julie I controlled myself. YOU'RE WELCOME."

LOL ... THANK GOD!! I'm already insecure enough (aka the scowls on the mom and 16-daughter scenario from the speed chats), so BLESS YOU!!

Ruthy can handle it, so I say you keep aiming at her ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Beth Erin said...

Ruthy, I am blushing and feeling completely unworthy of your praise, dear friend! It was such a joy to pray with you and visit after the closing.
I agree, we DO need reader/author events all over the place! Even if we all try to meet in the middle like Kansas City... it's a big ol' country!

Julie, now I'm all teary-eyed, too! So sweet to spend time with like-minded believers!

Just Commonly said...

WOW!! LOVE the excitement here! And LOTS of HUGS & KISSES to Julie for posting this fabulous recap, and to the many authors and readers who attended and shared in the comments.

All glory and praise goes to Him above. Honestly, through CFRR, we are humbled by His awesomeness. How did it come together? God made it happened, and nothing far from that. We are just His tools.

As to how the ideas for what to do. Carrie out right said "I want to do a panel on kissing!" LOL. Yes. She did. Bonnie & Carrie are panel moderators. So they get to choose what they want to moderate about and what questions to ask. I wanted to do a breakout session that allows readers to really get to know the authors a bit through games. As the number of people registered increased, my ideas for certain games kind of cancelled themselves out. So it led to breakout in just small groups, but then I wanted readers to be able to chat with as many authors as possible, so I thought, why not have authors move around? Then it started looking a lot like speed dating with a timed session, so that's how "speed chats" came about. I had 3 games I wanted to use, but at the end, chose Bingo for guests to recognize the covers with the authors and still have enough time to just chat with the authors.

As to prayer & worship? How can we honor God without that in a retreat who's theme is about honoring Him? As Julie and others have said, CFRR was great, one reason being organizing a prayer team early on, and the many prayers by others throughout the planning process. With the many prayer warriors in one event? How could we not include prayers with each other?

At the event, there were a good number of yummy treats in the guest swag bags, including a local chocolate cluster snack, GooGoo. Since they are perishables, it will not be included in the leftover swags to grab.

Next year's event date and location TBD, for updates, please sign up on the CFRR website.

Thanks again.

With much love,
Annie
Just Commonly


J Baugh said...

Sooo fun!

Nicky Chapelway said...

Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. I would have loved to have answered the questions (I really like Q&A for some reason) though I'm not entirely sure that I could have answered much of the kissing questions seeing as I don't have a significant other, have never kissed, and have only written, like, two kissing scenes...

Don't judge.

Carrie said...

RUTHY - you and "The Connealy" (LOL) were indeed hilarious but you were also quite meaningful ;)

JULIE - I adore you! Thank you so much for this fantastic post!!! What a great recap and trip down memory lane on truly one of my favorite days ever. You really captured the warmth and the laughter and how GOD showed up!

And yeah... like Annie said, I did totally and immediately volunteer/demand a panel on kissing haha :)

God truly outdid Himself with HIS plans for the day, and I know Bonnie and Annie and I were all in awe and humbled at how He worked and how He let us be a part of it. <3

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Julie, Wow, this really sounds like a fun event. I know I was invited, but had already committed to RWA San Diego and didn't want the expense of both in same year. But now I wish I had gone. Will they be having this next year. It is always so fun to meet readers. I am always amazed what they get out of a story - lots of times stuff I didn't even know I was addressing. The God thing I guess. smile.

Thanks for sharing all the info. Love your testimony also. I can so relate. Love and hugs,

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Nicky!!! I love that you told us that, and I think it ROCKS!!!

Hey, I've never killed anyone, but I've written some great death scenes, honey! And medical scenes and police scenes and oh my stars... all kinds of things!

That's why they call it research, darling!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Annie, thank you for that cool review of Home on the Range!!! I was over the moon! And I had a marketing talk with Kelly from Franciscan today and she said you contacted her about "The First Gift"... THANK YOU!!!!!

What an honor!

Your name came up because I was telling her how amazing you, Carrie and Bonnie were with the retreat, and that every publisher should be on board with this kind of thing, 100%.

A-STINKIN'-MAZING!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Carrie, I love that pic of you!! But my fave was the one you sent to hubby and put on facebook when we were at the taco place! SO ADORABLE!!!! You've got to be one of God's nicest, dearest creatures... I'm so glad to know you, and I don't even mind saying that publicly!!! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Nicky, I remember pretend kissing my hand as a preteen to see what it was like. It works. Except no return kiss. :)

As Ruthy said, we write about many things we've never done. Like killing people. :)

Make stuff up! That's what writers do!

Hugs!

Hellie Sinclair said...

This sounds like an amazing conference--it's always great to meet with people in "your tribe". :) I hope it was inspirational enough to carry you until next year when you can go again.

Nancy M said...

This was such a special time! Great recap Julie! Oh my gracious when I think back on it I still get excited! What fun! I really, really want to make it to Dallas next year! I can't imagine missing one of these! I know what I'd be missing now! So great to meet so many authors and readers! So many new friends!

Julie Lessman said...

BETH SAID: "Julie, now I'm all teary-eyed, too! So sweet to spend time with like-minded believers!"

AGREED, Beth, and now I know why I like you so much -- we're both weepy book-lovers!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANNIE!! The excitement here is ALL because of what you and Bonnie and Carrie did, truly, and it just flows out of everyone who attended.

You said: "Carrie out right said "I want to do a panel on kissing!" LOL. Yes. She did."

LOL ... that's my girl! ;)

And, Annie, I totally agree that the prayer teams hitting it hard for months before hand undergirded everything with His amazing grace!!

A truly unique day in our lives when God Masterminded everything through three amazing women!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Rebecca Maney said...

One of the highlights of the retreat for me was getting to meet you; your energy, your passion for story, and your amazing faith journey were so evident and contagious. Thank you.

And your Seekerville group of authors were amazing, such a great idea to act as a supportive team! The results have been amazing for readers like me.

Julie Lessman said...

J. BAUGH ... short and sweet, but OH, soooooo true ... it was "Soooo fun"!!!

Hugs and good luck in the contest!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NICKY SAID: "Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. I would have loved to have answered the questions (I really like Q&A for some reason) though I'm not entirely sure that I could have answered much of the kissing questions seeing as I don't have a significant other, have never kissed, and have only written, like, two kissing scenes... Don't judge."

LOL, Nicky, trust me -- no judging here, my friend! Not from an author who has written a ton of kissing scenes and suffered the wrath of 1-star reviews because of them. OR from anybody in Seekerville because family is what we are all about here, and support is the name of the game. :)

CFRR definitely WAS a lot of fun, and I'm hoping you can make one in the future, sweetie, so fingers crossed!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CARRIE SAID: "JULIE - I adore you! Thank you so much for this fantastic post!!! What a great recap and trip down memory lane on truly one of my favorite days ever. You really captured the warmth and the laughter and how GOD showed up!"

Wasn't hard to do, Carrie, because it is forever "captured" in my brain as one of the MOST IMPORTANT events in my life ... uh, other than my wedding and birth of my babies. ;)

And I "adore" you, too, my friend, and consider meeting both you and Annie through Sydney's blog tour last year one of the greatest blessings of my life as a writer. :)

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SANDRA!!! Girl, how I wished you had gone, too, because I miss you!!

You said: "Will they be having this next year. It is always so fun to meet readers. I am always amazed what they get out of a story - lots of times stuff I didn't even know I was addressing. The God thing I guess. smile.

I think Annie, Bonnie, and Carrie ARE thinking of continuing on with CFRR, so we'll have to wait to see what they come up with.

And, YES, meeting readers is a total rush, isn't it? Like you, I'm always amazed what they get out of story or even the fact they read my stories in the first place!!! Definitely a God thing. :)

Thanks for taking the time to read my testimony -- although I'm sure you've heard so much of it before over the years. :)

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "Hey, I've never killed anyone, but I've written some great death scenes, honey! And medical scenes and police scenes and oh my stars... all kinds of things!"

LOL ... good point, my friend, but then you DO have Connealy (shoot-em-if-you-have-to) for a friend, yes???

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY ... read Annie's SUPERB review and am CHOMPIN' to get to Home on the Range when I have a few extra minutes at Home on the Lake! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY SAID: "Nicky, I remember pretend kissing my hand as a preteen to see what it was like. It works. Except no return kiss. :)"

LOL ... I did, too, Deb, so I'm glad I'm not the only crazy one in the bunch ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Laura Conner Kestner said...

JULIE, thank you so much for sharing this! I wanted to go this year, but it didn't work out. I knew it would be a wonderful event, but I had no idea it would be that much fun!! I love this: "dressing up as a nun to sneak into a free movie showing of Gone With the Wind when I was sixteen" I can see now why your characters are so interesting!! Praying that there will be another CFRR next year - if so, I plan to be there!

Julie Lessman said...

HELLIE, it definitely was, and I don't know about carrying me until the next one, but I've been floating on memories since I got home three weeks ago, I can tell you that! ;)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NANCY!!! YES, I know what you mean about knowing what we'd be missing if we didn't make it to CFRR next year -- that's exactly how I feel now. Wasn't planning on going to Dallas, but I may have to rethink that if CFRR ends up there ... :|

SO great meeting you, my friend -- you are a true sweetheart!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

REBECCA SAID:
"One of the highlights of the retreat for me was getting to meet you; your energy, your passion for story, and your amazing faith journey were so evident and contagious. Thank you."

AW, Rebecca, you're gonna make this weepy CDQ cry, girlfriend, but THANK YOU!! I sooo enjoyed meeting you, too -- a face to go with a familiar name!!

And I will agree with you that our Seekerville group of authors ARE amazing!! I am SO grateful for them and the support they give to Seekerville and each other. It blesses us when we can bless other writers, so thank you for supporting us too!!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
JULIE

Boo Smelser said...

I have a strange inclination for Q&As too. Reading this post would have gone a lot quicker if I hadn't kept stopping to answer the questions in my head.

I have a ton of unspoken boundaries for kissing scenes, but perhaps one really good one for real life as well as stories is don't have them kiss people who aren't their spouses and might marry someone else for all they know in any way that they wouldn't want people kissing their own future spouses. Golden rule, people.

Sharee S said...

I am sooooo sad I missed this! It looks AMAZING!!! Do it again! Pretty please!

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL Boo! We writers are a strange bunch, aren't we??

bonton said...

BETH ERIN - You have been so enthusiastic and supportive of CFRR from the day it was first announced online, even volunteering to carpool so that other readers could have transportation to CFRR. We can't thank you enough, I thrilled CFRR was all you wanted it to be.

I love your comments: "CFRR was sisters in Christ encouraging one another and glorifying God with our worship and fellowship and He was present that day". Indeed He was, the reason CFRR touched people the way it did-He was there through every step of the planning also, continually blessing us, the organizers. Encouraging and providing for our every need - as Annie so beautifully commented, CFRR was all God - it was so apparent each step of the way, the three of us organizers were merely the tools He used to implement His plan.

I'm so glad you found "the atmosphere was relaxed and casual which made it much easier for all of us introverts to muster up our bravery for social interaction". I felt from the beginning there would be no problems with the introverts present interacting as there was such a common bond between them as book-lovers and sisters-in-Christ, God's presence and leading only making it that much easier, inspiring, and enjoyable.

bonton said...

RUTHY - thank you for being such a huge "cheerleader" for CFRR with those publishers!!

Julie Lessman said...

BOO SAID: "Reading this post would have gone a lot quicker if I hadn't kept stopping to answer the questions in my head."

LOL ... I hear you, girlfriend, but just think how long it would have been if I'd included the answers???

YOU ALSO SAID: "I have a ton of unspoken boundaries for kissing scenes, but perhaps one really good one for real life as well as stories is don't have them kiss people who aren't their spouses and might marry someone else for all they know in any way that they wouldn't want people kissing their own future spouses. Golden rule, people."

UH-OH ... I'm in trubbbbbble!! ;)

My lips are sealed ...

Hugs,
Julie

September 14, 2016 at 6:16 PM Delete

Julie Lessman said...

LAURA!!! We missed you, girlfriend!!! And, YES, you are ordered to attend the next one ... but first, you have to make sure it's one I attend, capiche???

You said: "I love this: "dressing up as a nun to sneak into a free movie showing of Gone With the Wind when I was sixteen" I can see now why your characters are so interesting!!"

LOL ... you have NO IDEA how close to the truth your statement is, my friend!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHAREE SAID: "I am sooooo sad I missed this! It looks AMAZING!!! Do it again! Pretty please!"

LOL ... I bet they will now, Share, especially if you and I bug them like crazy, right???

It was SO great to meet you, Sharee! As I mentioned to you, Mary had used your name in vain sooooo much, I felt like I already knew you! ;)

Hugs and more hugs!
Julie

JJ said...

Looks like you had a grand time at this convention!

Sandy Smith said...

So many comments and I'm really lately coming today. Just want to say how I would love to attend this someday. Sounds like such fun. I also need to meet all the Seekers!

No need to put me in the drawing as I already have all those books! :)

bonton said...

KAV - we started planning CFRR not knowing how many readers or authors would be interested or able to attend. From the beginning, we left it open-through prayer- to God's leading as to size and all that He wanted CFRR to be. We first opened registration to authors and were in awe at the wonderful response. Everything about CFRR, down to the smallest detail, was through God's leading and design-He truly was the orchestrator and provider for the needs of CFRR, thus determining everything about the event itself and the blessings attendees would receive from it.

Annie located the beautiful venue we used - it truly was the one that best fit the needs of CFRR, God provided just the number of people we needed. Annie is also the one who did most of the interacting with publishers-with the help of Carrie and several authors. I'm not aware of anyone directly from publishers or ACFW present at CFRR. We've received positive responses from many people, in numerous fields, since CFRR. I can't emphasize strongly enough the miracle of CFRR - God's Hand in it, and the power of prayer!!

bonton said...

DEBBY - Yes, I do feel the hugs and the prayers!! Your beautiful comments started my tears pouring again - an acknowledgement of the many ways God has blessed and always cared for me through all life's trials. Words aren't adequate to express my gratitude for your prayers and all those of so many godly friends and family, including the other Seekers. You have a special place in my heart also - I'm blessed by your godly friendship!! Hugs and love back!!

bonton said...

MARY - I'm so blessed by your comment, "I could feel the hand of God guiding the day (at CFRR)"!! A confirmation the day was all He meant it to be, as well as all we wanted it to be. Thank you so much!!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

This is so great!
Exciting to read and share.
What a blessing Seekerville is, and continues to be, used by the Lord to help so many.

Thank you for sharing.

LOVE it when His plan comes together in such a powerful way!

Julie Lessman said...

JJ, we really did! Glad you could feel that through this post. Hopefully one of these times, you'll be able to attend, too, because I love to meet you!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SANDY, yes, you DO need to meet all the Seekers, my friend, because we are dying to meet you too -- especially me!!

And it blesses me that you have read all those books, girlfriend, so THANK YOU, sweetie, and I hope we can do another Skype/FaceTime book club down the road. :)

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE, thanks SO much for filling in the gaps today so beautifully, my sweet friend. I love reading how all of this came together through your own words.

I will be praying for Kathy tomorrow for sure. Thanks for the info -- I will try to get back to you soon.

Hugs and more hugs, and some on top of that!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KC SAID: "LOVE it when His plan comes together in such a powerful way!"

Oh, me too, girlfriend, because not only is the plan better than anything we could have imagined, but the blessings are so much richer, too.

Hugs!!

Julie

Samantha T said...

Thanks for sharing about the event and give away!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, SAMANTHA, thanks for coming by to read it! Here's hoping it nets you a win!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Anita Mae Draper said...

Congratulations all around on a beautiful day. I was in Nashville, but unable to be at CFRR this year. However, I'm planning on it for 2017. :)

Thanks for the great report, Julie. Really appreciate the write up.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, ANITA MAE,you are more than welcome, my friend. I wish you could have been there, but at least I got to see you at ACFW, so I'm happy about that. :)

Hugs!
Julie

Brenda said...

So many good things happened in 3 days! It's got to be a wonderful event to be with the authors you love and with people that love to read as much as you do. I love reading about the event. Thanks for sharing and giving us the opportunity to win your books.

Starlight Starbright said...

It sounds amazing! Would be awesome to have retreats like this where I live :) I love all of your books and I am so grateful that authors like you, Bonnie Roof, Tamera Alexander etc are pioneers for Christian fiction. Thank you for what you do, I can honestly say that your books have blessed me so much and even my non Christian friends read them! God bless! From Shannon :)

Rose said...

Julie, I absolutely love your post! Thank you so much for sharing your adventures at CFRR, you sure had so much fun.:) Talk about a great way to be entertained and uplifted/ encouraged in the Lord at the same time.:) Your "nun" attire made me laugh big time.:) You rock, Julie! :))
I wish I could attend an event like this!And share a good laugh with you and an in-depth talk on your characters.:) Many blessings! Manuela :)

Lynne Feuerstein said...

Thank you so much for this fun post Julie!! Enjoyed reading about the details of the conference since I couldn't be there, Sounds like it was a wonderful time! Thanks to you and all the CF authors for your inspiration and for staying close to your reader friends. (Thanks,also for your giveaway,please throw my name in) Hugs!! :)

The Artist Librarian said...

I don't think I ever saw A Light in the Window in print before --i have the ebook version but it looks lovely (and so long)!

Absolute genius to hold the event at/one day before ACFW --authors just have to come a day early. But, I know the perfect island getaway you should totally hold CFRR at someday ... :-P

Thanks for the chance to win and for sharing this wonderful event with us. Julie, you must have taken a ton of notes while you were there! It's so detailed! :-)

Carrie Turansky said...

What a great day and what a wonderful recap! Thank you, Julie. I loved meeting so many enthusiastic readers and bloggers and sharing time with them. Lovely day!

Carrie Turansky said...

I wanted to add what I loved most was hearing the life stories from Ruthy, Julie, Tammy, and Jennifer S. That really touched my heart. I am excited for the next CFRR! THANK YOU, Bonnie, Annie, and Carrie!!

Holly Ison said...

I so wanted to be at the CFRR, but it just didn't work out. I really hope there will be another one in the future and I will be able to make it! I would love to meet and greet all my favorite Christian Fiction authors, and also meet new authors. Would be a total dream come true for this Book Addict! :)
I am excited to be entered for the book drawing. Thank you for the opportunity!

Melony Teague said...

Wonderful recap Julie! What an event. A highlight in my year for sure! Hugs!

Rebecca McLafferty said...

I could not make the trip this year to ACFW, but I SO hope to get there next year. Julie, you made me feel like I was "almost there" with you. Many thanks for sharing this inspiring piece and reminding me of the dedication and common bond we all share. God's blessings to you.

Amber Schamel said...

This retreat looks amazing! I so wish I could have made it. But God had other plans this year. Maybe next year though....

A big thank you to Bonnie, Annie and Carrie for putting this awesome conference together!

Sherida Stewart said...

Julie, thank you SO much for this post! This God-inspired idea these ladies had is awesome....as are the organizers, Bonnie, Carrie and Annie, as well as the authors, speakers, volunteers and publishers who supported this effort. Your recap let me experience the event....such a joy-filled expression of Christian reader/author fellowship! Thanks to all involved for spreading the word of faith-filled inspirational fiction....and the love and grace of this event.....amazing! Blessings!

Susan Snodgrass said...

That sounds so incredibly awesome. One day I would love to be able to attend.

Pepper said...

This is what it's ALL about!! Oh my goodness, I loved this more than words can say (and that's sayin' a lot :-)

Yes, Julie - Jesus, Stories, and Passion all together?!? Definitely heaven-worthy stuff going on right there!! Bonnie, Annie, and Carrie did an amazing job and I can't wait to see what God does with this in the future.

How amazing to get to touch base with readers and hear from them! I LOVED that. And to mutually encourage each other as we travel through this journey of stories?!?

Plus I got to see some of my favorite Seekers ;-)

BIG LOVE!!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, BRENDA ... YES, it definitely is WONDERFUL to be with the authors you love and with people that love to read as much as you do!! Wish you had been there too. :)

But imagine this all taking place in one glorious, jam-packed day, not three!! Talk about hyper-blessing!! ;)

Hugs and good luck in the contest!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, SHANNON ... talk about "blessing so much," you just blessed me with your sweet comment, my friend, so THANK YOU!! And thank your friends, too, for reading my books. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MANUELA!!! (OR ROSE) -- SOOO glad my "nun" experience made you laugh, my friend, because it sure didn't do that for the nuns at my high school, at least not at the time. :)

And I wish you could attend an event like this, too, so I could meet you and chat for a while. Maybe in the future??

Hugs and GOOD LUCK, my friend!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LYNNE!! You bet your name's in the hat, girlfriend -- ALWAYS!! And how Bonnie and I wished you could have been there, too, because we both SO want to meet you (and hug on you), so maybe in the future, God willing!!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ARTIST LIBRARIAN (JENN) SAID: "I don't think I ever saw A Light in the Window in print before --i have the ebook version but it looks lovely (and so long)!"

LOL ... yeah, I tend to do that with my books, Jenn, but I'm trying to taper back. Do you know that A Light in the Window was originally supposed to be a novella? Yeah, that didn't work ... ;)

Oh, and honey, if we could take CFRR to Hawaii, trust me -- we would!! You are SO blessed to live there, my friend.

And notes? Nope -- no time, but it so anointed and impacted me that even this colander brain can't forget it! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CARRIE, I totally agree! But one of my regrets??? Not being able to sit down with you and visit like we did at ACFW a few years back. I sooooo enjoyed chatting with you and Joanne and Lori, that I wish we could do it again. Maybe next CFRR or ACFW???

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, CARRIE, THANK YOU!! I will agree that hearing Tammy's, Ruthy's, and Mary's speeches were pretty special. Oh, and realllllly liked the speed chats too!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HOLLY, I am saying a prayer RIGHT NOW that you will be able to make a future CFRR, my friend, so from your mouth (and mine) to God's ear!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MELONY, me too!! I especially LOVED meeting you in person with that lovely accent of yours, my friend, so we'll have to do coffee at the next CFRR or ACFW, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, REBECCA, I am sooooooo glad I could infuse some of the excitement I felt at being at CFRR, and hopefully you and I will meet (and hug) at the next one, eh?

God's blessings right back at you and here's to a win!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

AMBER ...YES!!! Maybe next year, God willing!!

Till then ...

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHERIDA, HOW I wish you could have been there, my friend, because I owe you SO many hugs, you sweet thing!! But I'll save them up for the next time I see you in person, okay? Hopefully soon ...

Till then, lots and LOTS of cyber hugs, sweetie!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, SUSAN, I hope that you can, my friend, and I'm saying a prayer right now that you will be able to.

Hugs and good luck in the contest!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PEP ... I ALWAYS love seeing you, my sweet friend -- you are SUCH a doll!!

You said: "Yes, Julie - Jesus, Stories, and Passion all together?!? Definitely heaven-worthy stuff going on right there!!"

LOL ... amen to that, sister!


YOU ALSO SAID: "Bonnie, Annie, and Carrie did an amazing job and I can't wait to see what God does with this in the future."

Me either -- it's going to be tough to top this, but God is able!!

Hugs,
Julie

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

What a wonderful idea the blossomed into a rockin' event!
LOVE it.

And the speed chat.
Wow.
Brilliance!

Thank you for sharing.

Though we live about 2 hrs east of Nashville, I was not even in TN during the conference. I'd planned to come but it just didn't work out this round.

Hope springs eternal!

Love the creative spirit and organization and dare we say PASSION exhibited here.

Thanks, Julie

agboss said...

WOW!!! Sounds like the CFRR was an AMAZING time...chock full of creative fun and enlightment for both readers and authors. Thanks, Julie, for sharing all about it with all us! Please ernroll me in the giveaway! I would LOVE to be a winner :)

Thanks!
~Alison Boss

nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, KC, I would have LOVED meeting you, my friend, and ohhhhh, cannot believe you actually only two hours away!!

BUT ... there's always next time, my friend, and seriously -- you are one of the people I truly want to meet, so I'm saying a prayer right now that we will.

Yes, I agree that the speed chats were BRILLIANT, and everything throughout the day was totally wonderful. Next year, my friend!

And, YES, OF COURSE we dare say "PASSION"!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ALISON, YES, it was totally AMAZING, and I sure wish you could have been there. You're in the draw, sweetie, so GOOD LUCK in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Angela Holland said...

What an amazing giveaway. I am new to your books Julie but they sound really good. The reader's retreat sounds like it was a very nice time and you got to be in company with some great people. bookaunt at outlook dot com

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, ANGELA, thanks for coming by! And "new to my books"??? Welllllllll, we're just going to have to fix that, aren't we?

Right now my prequel novella, A Glimmer of Hope, the prequel to my 5-star, award-winning contemporary, Isle of Hope, is available for FREE DOWNLOAD if you want to check it out. Here's the link if you do:

A GLIMMER OF HOPE PREQUEL NOVELLA

And GOOD LUCK in the contest, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Well done, Julie!

Fab giveaway :) Please enter me.

May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, PHYLLIS, for coming by, and may God bless you too!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

The Artist Librarian said...

LOL, don't taper back, Julie! I love long books. I don't think it would have been fair to have Marcy and Patrick's story a novella when everyone else got full length novels, so I'm glad it was expanded!

Just had to put it out there ... ;-)

And no notes? I guess God definitely wanted you to remember this event (and to be able to share it with us)! ;-)

Deanna Stevens said...

Would love to read all of your books! Have a great weekend :) toss me in please..