Top 5 Moments from the Ohioana Book Fair

Posted on 22 May 2012

The annual Ohioana Book Festival was held May 12 in Columbus and featured nearly 100 Ohio authors who published books within the past 16 months. This was a really fantastic event and I was honored to participate. Here are my top 5 moments:

1. Watching people squint to read the little signs describing Living Arrangements I made the night before (see photo).

2. Promising to name a future character after a woman with a very unusual name, all because I initially spelled it wrong when inscribing Living Arrangements for her. (Fear not, it was an easy fix.) So C., if you’re out there somewhere reading this, consider it done.

3. Participating in the short fiction panel discussion with Donald Ray Pollock, Richard Hague, and Josh Rolnick. We talked about our books, our writing methods, our influences, and more. Afterward, a few people approached me and thanked me for my comments, claiming that I was very “down to earth” and that I “kept it real,” among other things. That very well could be shorthand for “rambled nonstop and displayed slightly unbecoming self-deprecating behavior,” but I’ll take the compliment anyway. Here’s a photo from the panel:

4. Four words: Post-panel book sales. Participating in the panel discussion really drove people to my booth afterward, which was a nice surprise. Even if I did ramble a little. And yes, as you can see in the photo, the panel was videotaped. I don’t have a link yet but can only assume I won’t be able to escape that little bit of evidence once it gets out in the world.

5. Touring the Ohio Governor’s Residence at the reception that evening (but don’t let the name fool you; the governor does not actually live there). Here I am with my trusty glass of wine at the reception:

And a bonus #6: Having the chance to participate in such a wonderful event and speak with so many writers and book lovers. I can’t wait to attend another Festival — but since only authors with newly published books can apply (meaning I can’t reapply next year with Living Arrangements again), it looks like I better get busy if I want to make it back anytime soon. Consider me motivated.


10 responses to Top 5 Moments from the Ohioana Book Fair

  • Sarah W says:

    This sounded like so much fun!

    Tell me . . . Do the Ohio authors actually have to live in Ohio, or could they have been born and (more or less) raised there for twenty-something years before moving to where the library jobs were? Jut asking.

    • “Ohio author” means 1) born in Ohio (no matter where you live now) or 2) You have lived in Ohio for at least 5 years. I’m not originally from Ohio but I’ve lived here for more than 5 years (which is why I was eligible for Ohioana’s Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant) and now, even if I move away, for their purposes I will still be considered an Ohio author. (I think.) So I think you’d be good. Also, books about Ohio written by non-Ohio authors count too, I believe.

      To apply for the festival, the book has to have been published within the year, and self-published books do not qualify. I think that’s it!

  • Lyra says:

    You were made for those panels. After our brief time in Chicago, I can say for a fact that I would love to hear you speak on a panel about your book and that rambling and self-deprecation are two of my favorite traits in a friend.
    I can’t be expected to do it alone now can I?

    • I loved Teri’s blog post about Erik Larson saying he was so sick of hearing authors read their own work. While I do enjoy a good reading, that type of burnout is why I elected to do my weird little PowerPoint presentation last week instead of a classic reading. The Ohioana Book Festival continued to reinforce for me that people want to have a conversation about books and writing and not just be talked at.

  • Josephine says:

    you know, being on a panel is one of my favorite when-i’m-a-successful-writer fantasies. i love saturday mornings watching cspan book channel–the panels are always the best part. once i was watching one and two of the panelist started to get hostile towards one another and a few snarky comments were made. then, i’m almost positive i remember reading that they had dated. (of course, I could be confusing a miami book festival panel with an episode of the big bang theory. who knows. my minds a bucket of sticky stale jello most days.)

    you look gorgeous and happy in these photos.

    • I have to admit I really enjoy panels. Of course, none of the panels I’ve been on have devolved into a bitchfest like the one you witnessed…but I think I’d almost have to consider that type of panel an even bigger success. Who doesn’t love author drama?

  • Paul Lamb says:

    Please do post the link to the video when it’s available. I’m eager to hear what you have to say (and to hear your voice).

    • I now cannot remember a single thing I said, which can’t be a good thing. Well, I do remember explaining that one of my family members assumed I had modeled lingerie a la Margaret in “Live Model,” but other than that, it’s a blank. And since my mind goes blank when I ramble, that might be a little concerning…

  • Teri says:

    Laura, you look fabulous in these photos — and I know you were gracious and kind and smart up there too! — and there you are on that panel with all the boys! I’m so proud of you. I bet you did great.

    And the Governor’s Mansion with no governor? Well how perfect is that. I wish we could have all been there with you — asking questions from the audience and, of course, cheering you with a glass of wine out on that gorgeous lawn.

    • Thanks, Teri. My fellow panelists were pretty great, as were the audience members, who asked us some very good questions. Donald Ray Pollack was one of the biggest draws at the event, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if most of the questions were directed at him, but it wasn’t like that at all. Of course, I did sit near him at the book fair, and one woman who was waiting in line for his signature looked at me and some of the surrounding writers (do I need to point out that none of us had a line of fans wrapping around the fair?) and said, “It must be hard having to sit so close to the star!” Ha.

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