*This story first appeared in The Budget’s March 14, 2018, Local Edition.
By Pat Edgar
As spring tries to push winter on its way and attempts to disprove the groundhog’s prediction, we tend to look ahead to summer plans. Perhaps you have a trip planned for the beach, Niagara Falls or out West to the beautiful Rockies. If your plans (and budget) are a little too modest for that kind of vacation, you may be interested in the Girlfriend Getaway 2018 scheduled for Sugarcreek on the weekend of June 15 to 17.
We know that good authors have the ability to take us away from our normal lives and transport us to places and situations that are new to us. During the Girlfriend Getaway, 10 authors, all known for their Amish fiction, will converge on Sugarcreek to connect with their readers and enjoy all the area has to offer. The event has been organized by Amy Clipston and Shelley Shepard Gray, both of whom have set some of their fiction in the Holmes/Tuscarawas county area. Joining them will be a group of authors, many of whom I’ m sure you’re familiar with. They include Kathleen Fuller, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Kelly Long, Amanda Flower, Kelly Irvin, Jennifer Beckstrand, Cathy Liggett, Molly Jebber and Ruth Reid.
One of the most familiar of these authors to this area may be Cathy Liggett, who released “The Sisters of Sugarcreek” in 2017. Another author familiar to readers of The Budget could be Suzanne Woods Fisher, whose historical fiction has been the subject of some of the book reviews printed in these pages. Readers in this area have always been lucky to be able to meet good authors through our local libraries and bookstores. But to have 10 authors here all at once is an unexpected treat for area readers.
Kicking off the weekend on Friday, June 15, will be a book signing at the Sugarcreek First United Church of Christ located at 526 West Main Street in Sugarcreek. At 2 p.m., Amy Clipston, Shelley Shepard Gray and Suzanne Woods Fisher will be on hand to meet local readers and sign copies of their books. That evening from 7 – 9 p.m., “Bling Your Bonnet” will be held in the banquet room of the Sugarcreek Carlisle Inn.
Participants can look forward to an evening of crafts, fellowship and fun. The event is free and no reservations are necessary.
On Saturday, the group has arranged a ticketed lunch at Dutch Valley from noon until 2 p.m. No tickets will be sold at the door. Good food, wonderful books, authors anxious to meet their readers and door prizes will make this a very popular event. Tickets for the luncheon are going fast. To get yours, go to amyclipston.com/girlfriend or shelleyshepardgray.com/girlfriend or call 1-800-965-9324.
For the cost of your ticket, you will receive a signed copy of one of the authors’ books in addition to the meal. You may also purchase the latest releases from each author (on hand courtesy of the Gospel Shop) and have them signed on the spot.
Saturday evening, the authors will gather again in the Carlisle Inn banquet room for an informal question-and-answer session. The event will run from 7 – 9 p.m. On Sunday morning at the same venue, the authors invite their readers to a “Goodbye Coffee” from 8 – 9:30 a.m. Both of these are also free and open to the public. Organizers Amy Clipston and Shelley Shepard Gray stress that the events have been planned to be fun and relaxed. Most spots are already spoken for, with a few sure to open up closer to the date of the event in June.
Organizer Shelley Shepard Gray explained that this year’s Girlfriend Getaway will be the third such event she’s hosted. The first was back in 2015 in Pinecraft, Florida. The author was launching her Amish “Brides of Pinecraft” series and realized that many of her readers were not aware of the popularity
Kathleen Fuller Suzanne Woods Fisher Kelly Long Amanda Flower Kelly Irvin Jennifer Beckstrand Cathy Liggett Molly Jebber Ruth Reid of Pinecraft for vacationing Amish families and “snowbirds.” Shepard Gray hosted the event in February and attracted about 25 ladies for the entire event and 60 for the luncheon. She had a great time and wanted to host another “getaway” so she and Vannetta Chapman hosted similar events in Berlin and Charm to coincide with the release of their “Charmed Amish Life” series. This time, approximately 50 people were there for the whole weekend, with nearly 100 attending the luncheon.
After taking a year off, Shelley Shepard Gray started receiving requests from readers for her to host another event. Inspired by their enthusiasm, she invited Amy Clipston to join her in the project. Clipston hatched the idea to add even more authors, and the response was both surprising and exciting. Giving readers access to 11 authors has created excitement among both the authors and their fans.
Shepard Gray says that the best part of the weekend for her is the chance to connect with readers. Many of them have been Facebook friends for years or have attended one or more of her previous events and signings. Since she counts many of the authors as friends, she is excited to be reunited with them. She is also excited that attendees will be able to visit with their favorite authors as well as other readers of a genre they love.
The Dutch Valley campus, including the Sugarcreek Carlisle Inn, is located at 1357 Old State Route 39 in Sugarcreek. Sugarcreek and the surrounding area are ready and eager to host your Girls’ Getaway weekend.