Conversations from a Page
Connecting readers and authors
This year, a couple of West University neighbors took summer reading to a whole new level.
Cindy Burnett, a former attorney and current book reviewer, and Krista Hensel, a former physical therapist and current part-time assistant swim coach at St. John’s School, teamed up to create Conversations from a Page, a several-times-a-year gathering to introduce readers to new authors and books.
The group began when Cindy hosted an event for friend and Houston author Katherine Center, when Katherine’s book How to Walk Away launched in 2018. “Everyone thought it was so great and said they would love to do it again,” Cindy says. “I have a number of friends who are authors, so I reached out to a couple and asked if they’d like to come to Houston to talk about their books, and they said they’d love to.”
That was last October. Cindy invited her friend and fellow St. John’s mom Krista to co-host, and now the events – some morning coffees, some evening gatherings – are held in Krista’s home. “We had such a great response to that first event, we decided to label it,” Cindy says. “We used my Instagram, @ThoughtsFromAPage, as a jumping-off point and decided on Conversations from a Page.”
“Cindy and I feel such joy connecting readers and introducing authors,” Krista says. “I am lucky that Cindy and I have found a way to combine our talents and work together in friendship.”
“We have two goals,” Cindy says. “First, we want to expose people coming to our events to new authors. Through book reviewing, I have found that there are a million and six books being published, especially with self-publishing and Amazon and all these small, independent publishers. So it’s really hard for authors to have good luck with their books selling, even if they’re good books, and for people to weed through all the books out there to decide what to read.
“Second, we keep hearing over and over that people love the social thing where everybody comes together to see people they don’t always see and meet other readers. It’s a community thing. Something fun and social, where people can come and enjoy and feel refreshed.”
This summer, Cindy and Krista hosted Mary Kay Andrews, a fun, prolific author with a loyal following, Lisa Duffy, who recently launched her novel about belonging, This is Home, and Wendy Walker, who introduced her thriller The Night Before. “We’re realizing we need a wide range of authors and genres,” Cindy says.
As an unwitting prelude to Conversations from a Page, Cindy started her Instagram account, or “Bookstagram,” as avid readers and book reviewers dub accounts like hers, three years ago to review books online. “When I was trying to decide where I was going to review, I noticed that people were moving away from blogs, going to places like Facebook and Instagram where they already are. I never want to go to all those independent blogs, so I didn’t want other people to have to do that.”
Although it’s turned into something big, Cindy’s passion for books has always been just that – a passion. The former attorney and mother of three says, “I always read a ton, and once my kids were in elementary school and it wasn’t so hard keeping up with a toddler at home, I started feeling like I wanted to do something else. I am in all these book-reviewing groups online. I got involved with a friend who runs a Facebook book group, and it started blossoming from there. I was in charge of a book-reviewing group and met all these people on the Internet.”
Those new friendships made online have developed into something more. Cindy now attends a book conference in New York, where she has met a lot of like-minded readers and authors. “It all kind of came about organically, and it’s come to this,” she says.
While Cindy brings her knowledge of authors and books, Krista enjoys hosting. “I greet and welcome everyone arriving into my home so that all are comfortable and a part of our event on a very personal level,” she says.
Authors Mary Laura Philpott and Katherine Center will be featured at the next Conversations from a Page event on the morning of Sept. 19. If you would like to be added to the list to receive a notice, email [email protected]. For more information, go to cfapage.net.
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