How do I even begin to describe one of the greatest events of my life?! Fiction Readers Summit was a dream come true. It exceeded all of my expectations, and blessed me beyond anything I could have hoped. It was a room full of amazing women (and a couple of men) who love Jesus with their whole hearts. Going to Fiction Readers Summit refreshed my soul, and I will never forget that day.
I am already planning to attend next year in August! If you couldn’t make it this year, then I absolutely implore you to make plans to attend next year. Next year, Fiction Readers Summit will take place August 8-10, 2019.
So, here is a play-by-play of this year’s event as I experienced:
Registration and Breakfast (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- So, I am a pretty punctual person. When the event agenda says registration begins at 7:00 followed by breakfast, I was ready to go at 6:45!!!
- I was the second person to check in and get my swag bag. What a great bag that was! Each participant received a bag with books, bookmarks, info flyers about more books, chocolates, and a notepad and pen.
- I took my swag bag and sat at an empty table nervously waiting…
- More people arrived. Trisha, the fabulous blogger at Joy of Reading met me at the breakfast line!!! It was so excellent to meet in person. She has been a big supporter and friend over the past year as I have been figuring out this blogging world, so meeting her was a BIG deal for me! Trisha, you are a BLESSING to me.
- More people arrived, and authors started to sit at our tables to have breakfast with us. It felt like rock stars were entering the room!!! At first, I could barely squeak out a “hello.”
- Breakfast was wonderful. In addition to food, they had fun ice breakers for us participants and authors. The authors were playing a BINGO game where they had to ask participants for information, and the participants played a game where we had to decipher a book time based solely on a very tiny detail. It was hard, but it was fun to move about the room, bump into authors, ask others for help. I think a few of us were looking things up on Goodreads! LOL!
Panel #1 (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- After breakfast, the authors moved to the raised dais at the front of the room. I think the participants and I were under the impression that we were going to get to ask the authors questions, but that is not what happened.
- Panel #1 was a flipped panel, which means the authors asked us participants questions. It was intimidating and cool and so much fun all at the same time.
- I even got brave a few times and answered questions, which actually was quite cathartic for me.
Lunch (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- Lunch was SO much fun! Trisha and I sat with Jocelyn Green and Lynn Austin. Can you believe that?!
- We talked the entire time. I learned so much. Both Jocelyn Green and Lynn Austin are amazing women, and they had such wonderful insights to share. I am SO blessed by my time with them.
- I will admit that I was completely intimidated at first. To me, all of these authors are BIG stars. But, what I loved so much is how real and down-to-earth Jocelyn and Lynn are. After a while, it was like talking to two really good friends!!!
Panel #2 (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- For panel two, the participants were given a choice. We could go into a session with authors who would discuss writing as a craft. This session was for participants who are writing fiction now, or who have dreams of writing in the future. So not the panel for me. I am all about the reading and reviewing!
- The second choice was a discussion on why reading has been so important to the authors. I went to choice number 2. It was fabulous! Understanding why an author feels called to a particular genre was fascinating. We also talked about a lot of other things such as when an author knew she had to be a writer, her writing journey, and what she loves to read vs. what she loves to write. I learned so much I was hitting overload!
- To be honest, by this point jet lag was hitting me hard, so I don’t remember everything. I flew from Southern California to Michigan and arrived in Michigan at 1:00 on May 11, 2018. By the afternoon I was feeling pretty loopy!
Panel #3 (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- For the final panel of the day, all of the authors came back into one room, and it was the participants’ turn to ask questions of the authors.
- This was a really fun panel, but it took us a moment to get going. I think by this time in the day most of us were severely overwhelmed by the literary greatness that was in the room. But, once we got going we were asking questions left and right!
- My most favorite moment from this final panel was when Tracy Groot shared some of her crazy research stories. Oh my, that woman has led an adventurous life. If you ever get the honor to meet her in person, ask her about the time she jumped off a boat in the Mediterranean Ocean. One of the greatest stories EVER!!!
After Panel #3, But Before Dinner
When there was a small break in the day, I had to ask Bethany Turner to sign my copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I adore that book, but I adore Bethany more. It was so good to meet her in person. She is SO funny and witty!!! Later, she even gave me a new mug with a fabulous Hollenbeck quote. I will enjoy endless cups of tea and coffee out of that mug!
And, we also got to take pictures of the authors as a group. That was funny!!! Tell 15 authors to smile for a 100 cameras…priceless.
Dinner (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- I had the immense privilege of eating dinner with Mesu Andrews, Tracy Groot, Catie Cordero, Trisha, and a few other bloggers and author assistants.
- This was the best meal I have ever eaten. The company was amazing!!!
- Tracy, for me, was the hidden gem of this conference. She is so gracious and smart and funny. I took home three of her books!
- Mesu may be one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. I was SO intimidated at first because she is MESU ANDREWS — one of my most favorite Biblical Fiction authors ever. But, the more we were talking the more it was like we were all fast friends. I loved that most of all.
- Catie Cordero is an AMAZING woman. I didn’t know who she was before this event, but now I will be a supporter of hers for life. If you don’t know her, check her out HERE!
Signings and Selfies at Baker House Books (Friday, May 11, 2018)
- Baker Book House is a WONDERFUL place. God knew what He was doing when He put me in Southern California. He knew that if I lived anywhere near Baker Book House I would be destitute. LOL!
- Baker House gave the participants a 30% discount and marked the authors’ books down to $5. We purchased whichever books we wanted, then we waited in each author’s line for a change to have our books signed and to take a selfie with the author.
- Such an excellent idea. I will cherish every single one of the books I got signed.
- I wish I would have packed a bigger bag!
- Again, spending a few minutes of quality time with the authors was PRICELESS. These are moments I will never forget.
- God has blessed us readers with some truly wonderful and talented writers!
- Rachel McMillan is one of the funniest women on EARTH. I cannot wait to read one of her books.
- Susie Finkbeiner is hilarious!!! I loved meeting her. Before this conference, I didn’t know who she was. But now I do, and will read all her books as soon as I have the time.
- I think Kelli Stuart has a genius-level IQ, and when she would fall into a Russian accent for a moment…it was really cool.
- Jocelyn Green is AMAZING. She started out as a journalist writing non-fiction. How cool is that?! Also, I feel like if I lived near her we would be good friends.
- I have no idea what Grand Rapids actually looks like. Next time, I will have to plan a little more wiggle room in my schedule so I can sight-see!