A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master's Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (www.deegospelpr.com,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at http://christianfiction.blogspot.com. Her debut novel "A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington/Dafina) releases Summer 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.
Seven Authors on Faith, Fiction, and Summer Retreats
Summer is for relaxation and reading; however, for authors it can be the busiest time of the year. With book releases, tours, conferences, festivals, and conventions, summer book season can become stressful. Therefore some writers gather together for solace and fellowship before the season slips away.
The Faith and Fiction Retreat offers that and more. Best-selling author Tiffany L. Warren created the retreat five years ago to support Christian fiction authors and for Christian book clubs to meet and discuss various topics with their favorite authors. This year it celebrates its fifth season at Saw Grass Resort (think PGA) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, June 23–25. National best-selling authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Stacy Hawkins Adams, and Victoria Christopher Murray will be featured, while twenty more authors will also serve as panelists (myself included).
Christian Fiction Online Magazine chatted with the retreat’s featured authors and panelists on what they wish to gain and learn at the retreat and why there is still time to join them.
What will you share at the retreat?
Tia McCollors (Moody Publisher) I try to share the same things that I like to receive: wisdom, candidness, my love for books and the literary industry. I believe that authors and readers alike want to know what works for you and what doesn’t. Experience is a great teacher.
Patricia Bridewell (Keeping the Faith) I want to first thank and acknowledge Tiffany L. Warren for this outstanding event. This will be my third year attending the Faith and Fiction Retreat, and every year I learn new information and network with others. I will discuss nontraditional publishing routes for new and seasoned writers.
Marita Teague (Harrison House, author of Taste of Good Fruit) I’d like to share a few of my surprising experiences as a relatively new Christian fiction author, how to minister to readers without being preachy, and an important part of my journey: pressing past the paralyzing fear of rejection to reach my goals as an author.
Booker T. Mattison (Revell, author of Snitch) I will conduct a workshop on screenwriting. Because most authors desire to see their stories become movies, I expect an eager crowd with whom I can interact and share. It should be fun.
Leslie Sherrod (Urban Christian, author of Secret Place) I want to bring a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement to retreat attendees. My novel, Secret Place, approaches a topic that affects many people but is not usually discussed in the faith community—mental illness. I am hoping to raise awareness by providing open, honest dialogue by engaging attendees in the tumultuous twists and turns of both the plot and the rocky journey of getting the book published.
What do you hope to gain?
McCollors: I hope to gain a creative push. This will be my third time attending the retreat, and the last two years I’ve gained wisdom from my fellow authors and inspiration from the readers who enjoy faith-filled fiction. That alone gets my juices flowing and I will probably accomplish more in the weeks following the retreat than I do all year!
Bridewell: I hope to network and connect with other authors, book clubs, and editors. I do not attend just for the purpose of exposing my work but to fellowship with other people. When a group of people who love Christ get together, the retreat can never be only about selling books. There is so much information that is exchanged and received. I like to communicate with people I have not seen for a year, find out how they are doing, and share some of the things I am doing—literary and personal.
Sherryle Jackson (Urban Christian, author of Taylor Made) I hope to gain knowledge on how the publishing landscape is changing and creative ways to market to our niche audience.
Teague: I want to be refreshed, revived, and inspired to keep on keepin’ on! The Word says that iron sharpens iron, so more than anything, I’m really looking forward to the fellowship, energy, and advice from other like-minded authors, readers, and aspiring writers.
Mattison: I’m coming to the Faith and Retreat to store up relationship capital. Far more valuable than money, relationships with like-minded people are worth more than gold.
Sherrod: I had the joy of being a part of the inaugural Faith and Fiction Conferences, and I truly was blessed by the fellowship with the other authors and participants. I am looking forward to sharing in the fellowship again, gaining new friends, reuniting with old connections, and being amazed anew at the perfection of God’s continually unfolding plan and purpose. Though I hope to be an inspiration and a source of encouragement for others, I believe I will leave the retreat feeling those very things myself.
Victoria Christopher Murray is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author for Simon & Schuster’s illustrious Touchstone imprint. Her novel The Deal, The Dance &The Devil releases June 2011. She has written nine novels and the Divine Divas Young Adult Series.
What do you hope to bring to the Faith and Fiction retreat?
I hope to talk about subjects and issues that interest readers and aspiring writers—whether we’re having book discussions or answering questions about how to succeed in this industry. I hope to give information to readers and writers who want to hear it.
Why is this event more than a retreat?
Actually, I think retreat is the perfect name for this event. A retreat is a place of privacy, a place of peace and quiet. And for the days that we’re at the Faith and Fiction retreat, that’s what we have as men and women who enjoy the written word. We are in a place with others like us, who love to read, love to write, and the noise of the rest of the world is silenced for these few days.
What event at the retreat are you looking forward to the most?
I enjoy most interacting not only with the readers, but I love getting together with other writers. Very few people understand our lives, the discipline of it, the politics of it, and the socialization of it. And being around a few people who get it and who get me is always a wonderful time.
Why should Christian fiction readers attend?
For readers who enjoy this genre specifically, this is the only place where so many Christian authors will be at once. It’s a wonderful way to spend a few days of your vacation: being around people who have the same passion.
To learn more about the Faith and Fiction Retreat, visit www.faithandfictionretreat.com