I've been participating in Slice of Life this summer, started by Two Writing Teachers. I love the challenge of composing a piece of writing at least once a week about life or teaching.
I will confess I'm not a huge chick lit/romance reader. Sure, I like to read several of them over the spring break or summer, relaxing by the pool, but not as my steady book diet. However, when I saw the Debbie Macomber Fan Retreat Weekend in Nashville advertised, I thought it seemed like a perfect getaway for Mom and me. I hadn't even read Debbie Macomber before now! But how could we pass up a weekend at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Resort in Music City, USA? It even included a free book, her follow-up in the Rose Harbor series. As soon as we booked, I started listening to the first in the series and really enjoyed it.
We got there Friday evening and started the weekend off by visiting Ann Patchett's independent bookstore, Parnassus Books. We've made a new goal to visit as many independent bookstores as we can whenever we're traveling. We both love Ann Patchett's books, and had read about the success of the store, so we were excited to see it!
Cute bookstore dog!
I bought three books there:
After arriving and settling in at Opryland Hotel, we ate pizza at an Italian eatery. It's SUCH a gorgeous hotel! If you've never been there, you need to put it on your list as a must-see destination!
We then decided to head on down to the Friday night festivities for the fan retreat, not really knowing what to expect. Oh my! We were in for a TREAT! Loud music and a pink glow were emanating from the conference room. We got our free goody bag from the Random House folks and headed in to find an amazing display of desserts, open bar, and fantastic cover band!! Debbie was mingling with the crowd, posing for picture after picture with her sweet smile.
Her family was SO fun and amazing!
Debbie and her husband, Wayne, had a great time dancing!
We all did!
Saturday brought a delicious breakfast, a bus tour of Nashville sites, lunch, a tea party with Debbie (she answered questions and told hilarious stories), and an amazing buffet dinner and sock hop with an Elvis impersonator, D.J., another open bar, and more dancing! Knitters had the opportunity to take knitting lessons with Nicky Epstein and get her book signed. Debbie is the official spokesperson for World Vision's Knit for Kids, so lots of people were knitting caps, sweaters, and blankets for children living in poverty.
SATURDAY NIGHT FUN!
Those are cat-eye glasses for the sock hop. ;-)
On Sunday, we enjoyed an inspirational talk with Guideposts editor, Rick Hamlin (who we found out can DANCE!). They talked about their writing, personal, and spiritual lives. We sang "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace," and left feeling like we experienced a very special weekend.
Unfortunately, they ran out of Rick's book, 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without, but we're a fan of his, now, so we'll buy it later. He's so personable, funny, and real.
THANK YOU so much, Random House and Debbie Macomber, for hosting an amazing fan retreat! Mom and I spent a special weekend together, and those memories will last a lifetime. Everyone was so friendly - we had a great time talking with other fans, the hard-working people from Random House, and Debbie and her family. We hope you host another one next year. In the meantime, I'll be reading more of Debbie's books!!
We weren't QUITE ready to be done with the weekend, though, and neither of us had seen The Hermitage, so we decided to visit there since it was only minutes away.
I'm blessed to have a mom who is also a best friend! As this summer comes to an end, I reflect back upon all the amazing experiences I've had - nErDcampBC, Niagara-on-the-Lake with my best girlfriends, Las Vegas with my wonderful husband, Norris Lake with my whole family, the Choice Literacy Retreat and Franki Sibberson's online literacy tech course, and Laura Robb workshop. What an incredible 76 days! It's almost time to go back to school, and as much as I loved summer, I'm ready to make more memories with my students and colleagues!! Goodbye Summer of 2013!