Novel super-fan Patsy Thompson received a surprise of a lifetime.

Through hand-written letters, the 89-year-old Thompson has established relationships with about 20 authors over the past decade. Her notes have always consisted of words of encouragement and insight of her readings. One author — Allie Pleiter — recently made sure to connect with her pen pal while in Dallas for a conference.

"Patsy is one of those readers we all dream of having. Loyal, loving, and sweet as could be,” Pleiter described. “It was a treat to do something special for her. After all, she's done so many special things for me as well as many other love-Inspired authors.”

On July 14, the two met at the Cotton Patch Café in Waxahachie to enjoy an early dinner and a friendly conversation.

Thompson’s good friend, Marcia Hagee, and pastor Carol Roberts of First Christian Church of Waxahachie both planned the surprised meet and greet a month prior.

Thompson fondly recalled the dinner date. When Thompson and Hagee entered the restaurant, Hagee approached two women waiting for a table, and Thompson saw them shake their heads, “no.” Hagee had never met the author, nor knew what she looked like.

“Then, a lady from another table got up and came and hugged me and said, ‘I’m Allie Pleiter, and I’m one of your authors.’ And I was thrilled to death,” Thompson expressed.

“It was like sitting down and talking to an old friend,” Thompson shared. “See when you write to these people it’s like you know them.”

Over the years, Patsy has developed relationships with several Christian authors. Thompson then singled out a California writer — Dana Mintink — who dedicated a book to her.

During the visit, Thompson received 20 books from other authors she has written to. Thompson brought a few to the Daily Light interview and showed the autographs and the personalized, heartwarming messages to Thompson.

“I’m keeping them forever,” Thompson emphasized.

After the meeting, Pleiter said, "It came as no surprise to me that Patsy was as delightful in person and regarded so by many of her friends. She is nothing short of delightful in her cards and letters.”

Pleiter was acquainted by another author, Kristen Ethridge, who also writes for Harlequin Publishing. Ethridge played a significant role in coordinating the surprise visit.

"It was an honor to get to meet Patsy and surprise her like this,” Ethridge relayed. “Allie and I described it as ‘Publisher's Clearing House for Readers,’ and it really was. Patsy has given so much encouragement to so many. I am so glad to have been a part of getting to give some encouragement back to her.”

Ethridge explained that it was Pleiter's idea to meet Thompson in her hometown. After Pleiter reached out to various authors that Thompson routinely writes to, each writer sent books, cards and other small gifts to be presented to Thompson during the meet.

"It was easy to see how much of an impact Patsy has had on others with her gift of sending these thoughtful letters,” Ethridge said.

Thompson is an avid reader and could not pinpoint her all-time favorite novel, “because each one of them is different in their own way.”

This was the fourth author Thompson has met personally. She recalled driving to Hurst a years ago to meet Margaret Daley from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Patsy relayed how she purchased a Texas map, memorized the route and successfully traveled to the book signing. Thompson spent the whole day with Daley.

When Thompson reflected on the visit with Pleiter, all she wished for was “more time” with the author.

Pleiter has written books for the past 20 years, and it started after a dare. Now, she has been named a best-selling author of more than 40 titles and has more than 1.2 million copies sold. She is also a sought-after speaker at various nation-speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues and writing. More information on Pleiter can be found at her website, www.alliepleiter.com. For more information on the author Ethridge, visit, www.kristenethridge.com.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450