• Megan DiMaria

Attend the VIRTUAL Faith & Fellowship Book Festival!

Oh, my goodness! I heard about this a few days ago, and it looks terrific! Any gathering that has the words faith and festival in the title has got to be great, right?


There are lots of book festivals out there, but the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival focuses only on Christ-centered works.


A book festival is a gathering of writers and readers that features presentations by different authors. It's a great peek into the mind of some of your favorite authors AND it's a great way to discover new authors.

Whether you're a reader or a writer, this festival has got something for you. It's three days of virtual meetings with all sessions held via Zoom.You do not need to register, just click the links at the appropriate time (And it's all on Eastern time.)


The featured authors are James L. Rubart, Philip Yancey, and Kimberla Lawson Roby plus over twenty other Christian authors on panels.


The first evening's sessions will discuss stories that present joy, freedom, hope, romance, and spiritual themes.


Thursday's sessions offer encouragement for those striving toward goals, a message of hope for going through difficult times, and a forum on mystery and thriller books.


Friday's sessions include the topic of searching for faith, exploration and investigating things you wonder about, a session about how stories of the past are relevant today, and a session for young and young adult fiction readers.


Cindy Thomson, one of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival directors agreed to answer a few questions about this interesting event.


Where did the idea for the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival come from? And how long has the event been going on?

It all started with a simple conversation. In 2016, authors Cindy Thomson and Yolonda Tonette Sanders were sitting next to each other at the book festival where they first met a few years earlier. The 2016 Presidential Election was only a few weeks away and unlike many of the conversations happening around them, neither author wanted to talk politics. So, they talked books and festivals, each sharing her idea about an event where Christian authors and readers could come together in fellowship to celebrate works that honored God. With similar visions, Cindy and Yolonda realized that they had something else in common — neither woman had tried to move forward because each didn't know where to begin. Thus, they decided to join forces and not know what they were doing together. In the weeks immediately following their conversation, the women got busy, emailing and planning this endeavor. They were blessed to have many supporters jump on board such as their pastors, the bookseller, and authors who quickly signed up to be at this event. Two women who didn't know what they were doing began this journey by faith, taking one step at a time, believing God would help put all the pieces in place. And He did. The Faith and Fellowship Book Festival seeks to do something that no other festival has done — focus only on Christ-centered works. Cindy and Yolonda have enjoyed their time at other festivals and hold nothing against them. They simply want the work of their hands to glorify God. The authors who will be at the FFBF have varied genres of fiction and nonfiction, but all books meet the objective of the festival founders.  At the end of the day, may readers find their lives enriched by the authors' words.


This year we added a committee member, Sandra M. Hart, who has been a huge help and tremendous support to us. 


This year, the festival is virtual, with all the sessions being on Zoom. Have the previous years’ festivals been like that? Will they remain virtual in the future?

This is our first year going virtual. We’ve had three in-person festivals in the past near Columbus, Ohio. Last year we decided to change the timing of the festival, and knew that we needed more than a few months to plan a new one, so we decided to do something online in 2020. A unique idea! Who knew at the time EVERYONE would be doing online events! We think this format is going to be very popular. We are planning to do 2021’s festival online again, and then we’ll regroup. It’s possible we may do some of both in future years. We started an online book club (next one is Dec. 3 with children’s author Burton Cole.) And we’ve done some online workshops for writers and we’re planning to continue doing both next year. (Follow our web site or Facebook page for updates: www.ffbookfestival.com  and 

https://www.facebook.com/faithandfellowshipbookfestival)


What feedback have you gotten from readers and authors about the festival?

Everyone seems excited about it. Many people are surprised it’s free and you don’t have to register ahead of time. Our goal is to connect readers with Christian books and authors they may not have known about before. We wanted to make that as easy as possible. All you have to do is click on the links and join the zoom meeting at the appropriate time. (And it’s all Eastern time.) Authors love meeting new readers and they also like to see each other from time to time. It truly has been a time of fellowship.


Do you anticipate any changes in the program for the future?

Oh, my goodness. My co-founder Yolonda and I have joked about this many times. The first year we told each other, we’ll learn this year and next year will be a piece of cake! Ha! We learn something new each year and that’s good because it means we’ve been making improvements and avoiding mistakes that we never saw coming. So I anticipate changes every year! But our basic format has remained the same. We have at least one featured author who gives a presentation or interview and we have genre panels. Both authors and attendees have really enjoyed these panels where a moderator asks the authors questions about their book(s) and attendees can ask questions as well. They have been super fun.


Anything else we should know?

Yes! Thanks for asking! This year we started a book award contest, the Angel Book Awards. We really wanted to recognize outstanding Christian books of all genres from picture books to adult fiction and nonfiction. We were amazed at the number of entries we had! We lined up judges who are avid readers. The vast majority are not in publishing, just really like to read inspirational books. (And to be clear, the FFBF staff did not serve as judges.) At the close of the festival we will announce the winners. Readers will want to come to see what excellent books are out there for themselves and for gifts!


Thanks, Cindy. I'll be checking out this festival, see you there!

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© 2020 Megan DiMaria