My Day as an Author at the Ohioana Book Festival


This was my first year at Ohioana, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. My only other experience with this sort of thing was at the Texas Book Festival last October. Then, I had my publisher and a large group of fellow authors with me. For this one, I would be mostly on my own, though my fellow TWCS author Sherri Hayes was attending, too.


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2009 Ohioana Book Festival from Ohioana Book Festival on Vimeo.


I was seated in a row of authors, between romance and mystery, which I guess was a good place to put me, since I don't really fit in any particular category. On my left was mystery author Casey Daniels-- who also writes as Kylie Logan for HarperCollins-- and on my right was Harmony Evans, from Harlequin. I was the indie filling in a Big Six sandwich.

I was also the only indie at my roundtable discussion. As the discussion started, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell how we got into the writing gig. I was the last in line, and it felt a little odd telling my story after hearing the other authors' tales of determination and the publishing struggle and agents...

Jillian KentHarmony Evans,
 me,
 and Yolanda Tonette Sanders 
So, I timidly stammer out my tale and a bit about my books, at one time finding myself on a bit of a blather about Gertrude Stein and Somerset Maugham and reeling myself back in with effort. (I could probably talk about Verdun for an hour, but they were here to talk about romance novels.)

One of the first questions I got: "What is fanfiction?"

So, I explained how a writer might take two existing characters from a published work and send them on new adventures, like writing a story which features Catherine and Heathcliff in modern day America. And that's when the author beside me mentioned That Book.

"Fifty Shades of Gray was once fanfiction... And you're with the publisher who first published it, right?"

This was the audience:



Okay, maybe not that bad, but some eyebrows were raised. And then I sat there, feverishly wondering if I should say, "But I don't write erotica! Not that there's anything wrong with it, but that's not what I write." And by the time my brain-- which is notoriously sluggish about supplying dialogue for real life-- had decided on what to say, the discussion had moved on.

Back at my table, it was busy. The crowd had really increased. It was hard to weave my way back to my table without spilling my tea. And speaking of tea, did they have a nice spread! They had a break room for the authors with tea and coffee. Breakfast was out when I arrived, and then at noon, they served a nice lunch, too. They also had water carts which went down the rows of tables, and volunteers who stopped by periodically to see if we needed anything. I felt positively pampered by the attentiveness.

This was the biggest crowd they'd ever had, I was told, and the festival gets bigger every year. This year, they had ninety authors. Fortunately, I had my True Love with me and he could do most of the "heavy lifting" when it came to the social interaction.

I had a TV set up, playing my book trailers, which you can see to my left in the photo above, and I had Sam and Ghostie with me, the two little mascots I carry to all of my promo gigs. Poor Sam is looking pretty battered after all of his travels! At one point, he was picked up off the table by a toddler and gnawed upon, and I blurted. "Oh, no, you don't want to chew on him. He fell down a mountain." Meaning, of course, that it's not terribly hygienic, but I've never been very good with words verbally. That's why I write, instead.

There was a really cool experience I was glad I got to have: a reader stopped by my table to have a photo taken and get her books signed. She was Emily from Book Jems. She was one of my fanfiction readers and she gave The End of All Things a fabulous review when it first came out. It was awesome to get to meet her.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner with Sherri Hayes and her husband. She has about half a dozen of these things coming up this year. I don't know where she gets the energy!

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9 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. The Kansas Book Festival is coming up in September. I hope my experience is as good as yours!

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    1. I hope so too, Lindsey. I'm sure you'll do great!

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  2. This made me smile! It was so nice to meet you as well, Lissa! I'm glad you attended, and I hope I get to see you with a new book next year. :) Now I'm off to read Ghostwriter!

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    1. Thanks, Emily. Meeting you made my day!

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  3. Sounds like you had a great time - glad it went so well for your! :-)

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    1. It really did go well. I'm already considering attending next year.

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  4. How exciting! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  5. oh yeah, and fan fiction writers rock! :)

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    1. Thank you! I think so, too... It's a great creative medium and a wonderful place to get started as a writer. I was given a tremendous amount of support from the community.

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