On Saturday April 8th, I attended the 10th annual Ohioana Book Festival. This event takes place in Columbus Ohio (about 1-1.5 hours north of where I live) every year, and focuses on featuring & promoting Ohio authors.
Continue on to read about my experience, which books I hauled, and which author I had an “awkward encounter” with…
I ended up flying solo to this event. There are pros and cons to going to a book event alone…
Pros: you are the boss • you can come/go when you please • you can listen to an audiobook on the commute…
Cons: no one to fangirl with • no one to take your picture with the authors • no one to watch your crap while you use the restroom • you have to pay for all of the gas/parking • no one to discuss panels with • no one to people watch with • no one to sit next to you and ward off creepy men (this actually happened) • you look like a loser without any friends…
Basically going solo was fine, but I would have preferred to have my bookish partner in crime with me.
I spent the majority of my time at the festival attending the author panels. I find author panels absolutely fascinating. I love that each author typically has such different writing processes, motivations, inspirations, etc. I also enjoy getting new insights into books I’ve read or plan to read. I am going to be giving a little snippet of each of the panels I attended, however I am going to limit it to the authors that drew me to the panel in the first place. This is not to say that I was not interested in what the other authors had to say, but in the spirit of keeping this post relatively short I can only include a few authors.
I started my day off with my first panel, Masters of Mystery. This eneded up being an all male author panel that comprised of Dan Andriacco, John Hegenberger, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Robin Yocum. Now, this may come as a big shock, but I am not a big mystery reader. So why did I attend this panel? I wasn’t really interested in any of the other panels during this time slot, so I figured why not? The only author I had heard of in this panel was Robin Yocum. I had heard good things about his book A Brilliant Death.
*Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this panel because I didn’t have a good vantage point #BookBloggerFail
» The first thing I have to get off my chest about Robin is that he resembles Sylvester Stallone with a touch of Mel Gibson. Basically, he is Sylvester & Mel’s love child. I thought about telling this to him when I visited his booth after the panel, but I didn’t want him to think I was a werido… which it totally true, but he doesn’t need to know that 🙂
» It generally takes him 8 months to 1 year to write a book.
» He knows how the book is going to end before he begins so he can write towards that ending.
» He writes everyday and shoots for at least 500 words minimum.
» He likes to utilize the voice to text app on his phone to dictate notes, ideas, plot points, etc. while he is driving in the car. The app then emails him the notes.
*This is brilliant! Take note all you aspiring authors!
» “The first 10,000 and the last 10,000 words are easy. It’s the middle 80,000 words that are hard.”
My next panel, Out of the Past: Historical Fiction, was my favorite panel of the day. Authors Jennifer Chiaverini, Linda Kass, Mary Doria Russell, and David Selcer sat on the panel. This was actually a “record breaking” panel for the Ohioana Book Fest, as there were over 70 people packed into one small room, which is the most in the history of the event.
*Can you spot me in the front row? I’m on the right hand side of the room to the left of the lady in the long braid.
As you can tell from the picture, this audience was an older demographic. I was probably the only person under the age of 40 in attendance… BUT if you know me, then you know that historical fiction is my favorite genre. I went into this panel specifically for Jennifer Chiaverini and Mary Doria Russell.
*I would like to note that the pictures I took at the actual event are not the best quality because they are taken on my phone. Sorry in advance 🙂
» Personal observation: this woman is ridiculously pretty. She is one of those naturally beautiful women we all wish we were.
» She was inspired to write Fates and Traitors by all the gun violence in society today.
» She fangirled hard core over Mary Doria Russell.
» She wanted to write Fates and Traitors from the view points of the women who knew and loved him best, as they were the first ones to be judged.
» In historical fiction, oral histories are crucial sources of info as personal experiences vary.
» She loves that in historical fiction, you have the added gift of emotion and can evoke empathy in readers.
» She recommends Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell
» Mary is such a character. She was very charismatic and FUNNY! I also found it hilarious she was wearing a planet necklace… That isn’t some type of brand name, she was wearing our solar system on her neck.
» Once shared a taxi with David Mcullough.
» Recommends A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan.
» She starts with research BEFORE she decides any characters, plot points, etc.
I did have a rather awkward encounter with Mary. I pondered about if I should mention it or not, but it is my blog, so I’ll do what I want 🙂
Since Mary had a stack of her books (multiple copies of a few of her books) with her during the panel, I went up to the table after the panel was over to enquire if I could just get the books I wanted now (as opposed to going upstairs and potentially waiting in line). Mary seemed very hesitant and slightly annoyed with this request, not really looking at me or trying to engage me in conversation. I quickly said that I could just wait and get the books upstairs, but she was already signing her name into the two books I had pointed to. At this point she then handed them to me and said “I’m going to trust that you are going to pay for these.” I was a little taken aback by this comment. I assured her that I would, and quickly left the room feeling a little embarrassed. It had never crossed my mind that this was the reason that she was hesitant to give me the books she had brought with her to the panel… I guess I just assumed that the reason she brought multiple copies of each of her books was in hopes of selling some to those who attended the panel.
I would be lying if I said that this situation didn’t upset me, HOWEVER I am going to give Mary the benefit of the doubt here. The panels were held downstairs (near the exits) and the check out registers were upstairs… Maybe she has had books stolen at festivals before? Maybe the festival had some type of strict rule not to give people books at the panels? Was it the fact that I look younger than I am (despite the fact that I’m now 30 and officially old) and was wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt? Did I look suspicious? I really hate to have a bad taste in my mouth over this, as I really enjoyed listening to Mary on the panel and was so excited to read her books. Is it possible that I completely misjudged the situation? Maybe. Do I really believe that? Not really.
Just for clarification I did go upstairs and pay for the two books at FULL price.
My next panel, Writing and Publishing for Young Readers, included David FitzSimmons, Anne Vittur Kennedy, Edith Pattou, and Carmella Van Vleet. This panel included the author of my favorite book that I read for the Ohioana book festival, East by Edith Pattou.
» Well first off I would like to brag that Edith Pattou remembered my name from when I had gone to her booth earlier in the day to pick up a copy of East to get signed. When she had arrived at the panel, she had forgotten to bring a copy of one of her books to put on display. She saw me sitting in the front row and said “Amanda..” (I’m assuming to ask to borrow the copy of her book she knew I had) but the moderator cut her off and produced a copy of East for Edith. That’s right, Edith and I are basically BFFs now.
» Edith just finished revisions on a SEQUEL to East! I had no idea this was in the works. Anyone want to take a stab at what the title is? If you guessed West, then you are correct! ((Edith- I’m totally available to read an ARC of West in exchange for a review… call me!))
» She writes for 4-6 hours a day. She has to get out of the house to write, so she goes to her local library.
» Her favorite childhood book is A Wrinkle in Time
» She lucked out in the publishing process: she pitched her first book and the first publisher picked it up. This is NOT the norm in the publishing world.
» She doesn’t write with a specific audience in mind, she just writes the story that speaks to her.
My final panel, Submitted for Your Approval: Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror, included Gary Buettner, Mark Dawidziak, Terry W. Ervin II, and Leanna Renee Hieber. Not going to lie, I had never heard of any of these authors before, but I figured why not? This ended up being the most entertaining panel. I laughed the entire time.
» “If you read only within one genre, you’re inbreeding.” -Gary Buettner. Obviously you needed to be there to understand the context of this comment, but Gary was a hoot!
» Mark Dawidziak is totally Mark Twain. Mark hates labeling. He feels that labeling minimizes authors: Not a “horror writer,” just a writer.
» Terry Ervin writes the books that he would like to find on the shelf and read. Advises aspiring authors to write for themselves, not with the intent to make millions.
» Shirley Jackson is such a fascinating woman! She walked into the room in full on Victorian era get-up, complete with a feather headpiece. I really wish I had gotten a picture of her outfit. She looked stunning. I was even more intrigued when she said that it wasn’t a costume, it is how she normally dresses. Shirley writes “gothic Victorian fantasy” for a female forward audience. She was heavily influenced by the Brontë sisters and Edgar Allan Poe.
» The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
» East by Edith Pattou
» A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
» A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum
» The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
» Fates and Traitors by Jennifer Chiaverini
Would you (or have you) ever attend(ed) a book festival solo?
Have you ever had a “awkward” encounter with an author?
Have you read any of the books I hauled? What did you think?
Comment below and let me know 🙂