Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat · Event

Survival Tips from a CFRR Addict


The Christian Fiction Readers Retreat is exactly one week away and the excitement is overflowing! On August 12th, authors and readers will be gathering together in Cincinnati, Ohio for an exciting event filled with author panels, book signings, and a lot of #FOAFA (Freaking Out and Flailing About–a hasthag I coined last year). For those of you who are attending and are looking for some preparation tips, I have your back!

#1. Bring an extra bag or suitcase

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Before I left, I told myself I would buy 2-3 books at most.


Yeah, that didn’t happen.

I walked into a room lined with book tables and I was doing fine while I had the distraction of talking to people I had been dying to meet. Then I sat down to listen to the first panel of authors, and following that I lost all hope. After every panel, I had to go buy at least one more book. On top of that, our swag bags included free books as well.

I left that weekend with fifteen books.

That’s five times more than I said I’d bring back.

But the story doesn’t end there . . . Let’s just say that TSA wasn’t fond of me after this incident. I only brought a carry-on with me that weekend, which means I had to fit my clothes, the swag from the event, in addition to fifteen books in one small suitcase. When I went through security, I was wearing a sweater with my university’s name on it and the TSA woman there asked if I was going back to school as she lifted my bag. I figured she asked because of my shirt, but as she moved the clothes that had covered up the books lining the bottom of my bag, I was given a look that came close to a glare and she said, “Oh, I thought these were school books. How are you even going to lift this?” Whoops. 😉

Not only that, but I had to wheel that bag across three airports. Thankfully enough, they checked it for me since the airplane was so small and I didn’t have to lift it.

So, with all that said, pack an extra bag just in case.

#2. Pack bookplates

Especially if you’re flying, save the room in your bags for books you buy or win instead of bringing a stack along to be signed.


Last year, I went to the store and found a package of white shipping labels that I had authors sign. You could also invest in nice bookplates, but this was the most convenient option for me. I had more room in my suitcase and was able to get more autographs this way!

#3. Warn your spouse/family to not check your bank account


When I came home after CFRR last year, I told my mom not to even bother looking at my bank account because I knew she’d probably be terrified by what she saw. If you make the same decisions I did (like leaving with a stack of fifteen books), then it may be best to warn whomever it may concern not to even bother with the horror movie your bank/credit card statement will turn into. . . for them, of course. You’re getting books out of the deal!

#4. Consume a lot of coffee beforehand


Honestly, there’s a chance that you won’t be getting much sleep and you’re going to need the energy to keep you on your feet all day. Plus, if you’re staying at the hotel, there will be a gathering of authors and readers galore in the lobby at all hours. There’s Starbucks nearby and I’m sure the hotel will have coffee, so bring that IV or vat full of coffee along because you don’t want to miss a thing for something as pointless as sleep.

#5. Sleeping is optional


When you’re surrounded by people you have been dying to meet or rarely see, sleep is not a priority. Make the most of every second, even if it means looking like a zombie the next day. Just be sure to fuel yourself up with a lot of caffeine and fangirl-geared adrenaline and you will be good to go!

#6. Invest in tea and honey . . . and smelling salts
giphy (1)

Expect squealing, chattering, and fangirling all day long. The moment you walk in those doors, you will be swept away in a whirlwind of excitement and chaos. There will be so many authors to meet, books to buy, and people to talk to, you may not have a voice by the end of the day and may need to sit down a time or two. Also, be sure to remember to *inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale* because you’re going to be doing a lot of #FOAFA!

Rachel (Bookworm Mama) and I fangirling over Jen Turano and Amy Clipston
#7. Bring a fully charged phone or camera


This is the experience of a lifetime. You will be in a room filled with authors and memories you will not want to forget! Keep that phone/camera ready at all times to capture it all. Also, be sure to make sure you have enough space on your device to hold all of your photos because you don’t want to have to pause your photo op to delete photos.

#8. Pack business cards or a pad of paper

giphy (2).gif

I met some amazing new friends last year and was so glad I brought a stack of business cards along to hand out so that we could stay connected. I even wrote names and email addresses down in a notebook so that I could find people online after the retreat. I’m terrible with names so this helped me out monumentally. You’re going to be meeting some fantastic people and you don’t want to leave without staying connected.

#9. Prepare for ALL THE HUGS!


I identify as an ambivert or an outgoing introvert. When I’m in my element, the outgoing/extroverted side of my comes out and I get really excited! This seems to be a common occurrence at CFRR so be ready to be giving and receiving hugs from your favorite authors, fellow readers, and especially me! Seriously, if you introduce yourself and we’ve interacted online before, I may explode with excitement and give you a hug. I just really adore my blog followers!

#10. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
L to R: Mikal Dawn, Me, Sarah Monzon, and Meghan Gorecki

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by everything going on and all the people around, but try to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where some of the best memories happen. Introduce yourself to authors and readers. Tell authors how their books impacted your life. Take crazy pictures despite any odd looks you receive. Make the most out of this fabulous experience!

#11. Invest in a fan
L to R: Pepper Basham, Ruth Logan Herne, Melanie Dickerson, Janet Dean, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Julie Lessman

This is a must. Not only will you be in the same room as some of your favorite authors EVER but the panels can be incredibly swoon worthy. I just discovered that we will have a panel talking about book boyfriends. If it’s anything like the “Pucker Up” panel from last year (above), then you’re going to make good use of that fan!

#12. Be ready to make lifelong friends
L to R: Jen Turano, Annie (Just Commonly), Abbie, Marisa, Sydney (Singing Librarian Books), Meghan Gorecki (Northern Belle), Rachel (Bookworm Mama), Me, and Bonnie.

This is a huge one, y’all! I have met some of my closest friends online and was able to meet them in person for the first time at CFRR. Not only this, but I was also introduced to some awesome people while there and it has helped build such strong friendships. This event gave me the opportunity to connect with people across the country and that’s one of the greatest things about it! I hope you walk away feeling the same!

Will you be attending CFRR this year? If so, let me know in the comments and I will keep an eye out for you! You will be able to find me at the author registration table. See y’all in seven days! 🙂

52 thoughts on “Survival Tips from a CFRR Addict

  1. I love this! I am also counting the days. I spent yesterday afternoon trying to decide which books to bring for signing. I’m ready to jump in the car and start driving now! Hope to see you there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here! I’ve had a countdown on my phone since the date was announced. 😉 I hope so too! I’ll keep an eye out for you! 🙂


  2. Woohoo! Can. Not. Wait! Great tips, Rachel. I’m trying to figure out the logistics of getting extra stuff (mostly books) home again afterward on the plane. Prepare for hugs everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! Yeah, that’s always the interesting part. I had to sit on my suitcase in order to zip it. 😉 You can definitely find a post office and ship a package home. It’d be like getting a present from yourself! 🙂 I’ll keep an eye out for you and be looking forward to the hugs!


  3. I will be there, flying in this time. I am hoping that my husband packs light enough to store some of my “loot” in his bag on the way home. You’re right, it’s a lot to take in, but I absolutely loved it last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! How exciting! I’ll keep an eye out for you! 🙂 Good idea. Make the husband take some of your goodies in his bag. 😉


  4. Oh yes, I will be there!
    I’m so excited. Tickets purchased & room booked in early February.

    My hubby is driving me up, along with our 14 year old son. None of us has been near Cincinnati before. We are going to take some time both the day before and after to explore the city a bit. (I visited Akron a couple times as a child; as adults, both my hubby & I visited Findlay several years, although different years, for our churches conference.

    I look forward to meeting you. And thank you for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laura!!! I can’t believe it’s only a week away now. I heard the Creation Museum and the ARK are a MUST! I hope to go to at least one while I’m there. 🙂


    1. We had a couple of men with their wives last year, Mr. Mabry. Men are welcome and we would love to have some male authors participate at CFRR, you were on my list to invite this year but I was told you already had other plans. Hopefully, you will be free next year?? We would love to have you attend!!
      Bonnie Roof


  5. Makes me all the more eager to get there! Looking forward to it! I had to miss it last year and am counting on soaking up double-time this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so ridiculously excited I’m already packing and my husband was laughing at me tonight calling my geeking out “cute.” He may not think the same if he see the bank account after the trip…good thing I’m usually the one to pay the bills! (I will also be geeking out to me you too!) I think I’m most excited to meet friends I’ve made online in person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know you were coming!!! You’re going to have to find me and say hi! 🙂 If I give you a blank stare, say you’re “Kat’s Corner” and then I’ll recognize you. 😉 Awww! How sweet! Hahaha! A lady has to splurge every now and again. 😉


  7. I’ll be there!!!!!! My first time and I am SO stoked!!! (In case the amount of exclamation marks didn’t give that away 😉 ) Thanks for the tips and suggestions! Now I have more things to add to my packing list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wish I was with you at the retreat! Wishing you a wonderful time. Now about all the books you UMM don’t plan to buy…you live in USA, right? Postal service has a flat rate box that will ship direct to your home. Package often arrives before you do. Win win situation and you don’t have to lug books and swag through the airport!


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