Fiction Readers Retreat Recap

This post is a bit different in that I thought you guys might like a peek into a reader’s event and what it’s like from the author/reader perspective.

What is FRS?

On the factual level, Fiction Readers Summit is a yearly reader event held in Grand Rapids, MI. Half of our time was spent at a beautiful church event center, and the other half was spent at Baker Book House. Baker Book House is a destination bookstore y’all. It’s the biggest Christian store I think I’ve ever been in. We won’t talk about how much money I spent while there. . . but it was substantial.

Attendees got huge swag bags with lots of books and goodies. Many of those books were added to my giveaway stash, which was a huge blessing to me (and to those who participate in the reading challenge). If you’re part of my Facebook Group, I have a post going up with an album of all my pictures and a chance to win some of the swag that was given to us. (Think bookmarks, little charms, etc that fit inside a regular envelope.)

The event covered dinner and hang time on Thursday night; four author panels, games, giveaways, and lunch Friday morning; dinner on our own (but 14 of us went out together), and then selfies and signings on Friday night. On Saturday morning, we were served breakfast and socialized until everyone departed for airplanes or home.

A Family Reunion – But Everyone Likes Each Other

However, FRS is so much more than just an author/reader event. It is a family reunion–but one where everyone likes each other. Seriously, friendships are forged that last from one event to the next and beyond. I attended simply as a reader, but I had the chance to meet readers and potential new readers–not only meet them but hang out and really get to know them. So many of us were introverts that everyone understood if you had to walk away and take a break for a while.

During the author panels, there were honest and open discussions between authors and readers. Topics ranged from what readers want to see more of in fiction–the grittier side of life, postpartum depression, etc–to how authors of different colors and ethnicities can make their stories more appealing. The answer to that last one was really, actually a beautiful discussion. The universal answer is the culture, background, and voice of others should not be diminished in order to “better appeal” to others. We want to learn and experience other viewpoints, not have them changed to meet what are perceived expectations. It was a safe place to talk where authors and readers met on mutual ground to talk about the hardships and desires of the reading/writing world.

At “Selfies and Signings,” it wasn’t just lines of people getting signatures and selfies. There were discussions, mingling, and hanging out until Baker Book House literally turned out the lights on us to tell us all it was time to go home. . . and then we still hung out a little longer.

A huge number of us were in the same hotel and we hung out in the hotel lobby until almost midnight. I also cemented my place as an official tea lady/snob. I brought down a selection of about 14 tea flavors (most loose leaf teas) and my own hot water kettle. If you are a tea snob, you know there is nothing worse than the hot water that comes out of containers that once held coffee. It flavors the water and is terrible. Yes, it’s totally a first-world problem, but I like non-coffee water for my tea. It really was just a time of fellowship and family.

Meet the Authors

There were a ton of authors who showed up officially and unofficially. I missed some authors during the selfies. From left to right, top to bottom:

Tosca Lee, Bethany Turner, Carmen Schober, Dani Pettry, Susie Finkbeiner, Tammy Renich, Amanda Dyke, Carrie Turansky, Kimberly Duffy, Jennifer Wright, Jamie Jo Wright, Stephenia McGee, Amanda Cox, Erica Vetsch, Janyre Tromp, and Gabrielle Meyer.

Selfies I missed: Lynn Austin, Denise Hunter, Katie Powner (HOW did I miss her? We talked for like 30 minutes!!!), Patricia Raybon, and I heard Jennifer Delamere was there too.

One of the panel questions was ask the author a question. So what question would you ask of any of these authors.

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