Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ohioana Book Festival 2011

I spent yesterday at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
It was a day of celebrating Ohio's authors, and I was privileged to be a part of it. I shared a table with the lovely and talented Betsy Snyder. If you have little ones, you should definitely check out her work. Her illustrations are super cute and are sure to delight readers of all ages! You can find her work at

Over breakfast before the festival began, I met a publisher from the Dayton area who expressed interest in taking a look at the YA novel I am currently editing. She gave me her card and told me to send it her way and that we could even discuss it when I'm in Dayton later this month.

After a full day of book signings, readings and chatting with other authors and illustrators as well as festival goers, it was time to unwind at a closing reception held at the Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden. It was a very nice time with good food where I enjoyed my hors d'houevers alongside two women who wrote about bicycling across the country, a man (and his Latvian wife) who writes about the history of theatre in Cleveland, and a woman who does radio programs for those who are unable to read. I met many fascinating people, got more inspiration/tips/ideas than I could handle, and hope to attend next year if my next book comes out in time for the deadline.

The reception concluded with a tour of the governor's residence.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Contentment Where Least Expected

I asked a friend at church recently how he was enjoying his new job. I expected him to give me the typical response that it was going well, paying the bills, etc. But the way his face lit up as he told me how much he loved his work and how much pleasure and purpose it gave him interacting with his co-workers and the customers he served caught me a little off-guard.

I'm telling you, his job is not the kind that most people would jump up and down about. In fact, when my friend shows up to work each day beaming from ear to ear, his co-workers ask him, "What are you so happy about?" His reply: "I love this job!" Their reply: "Are you serious?"

It was refreshing to hear him respond so positively about a job where I doubt he's making much more than minimum wage. And yet, he believes in the organization he's working for and believes in the impact he can have on peoples' lives through carrying out his tasks with a positive attitude. And this makes all the difference.

He told me that he'd had a similar job years ago -- one that hadn't allowed him to save much, but that had provided for all his needs and had made him happy. But all that happiness changed when his girlfriend came to his house one day and happened to get a glimpse of his paycheck. "Is this all you make?" she asked. "I know a job where you can make a lot more than this."

Suddenly, the job he loved no longer appealed to him. And he went off to work for another employer, where he began making lots more money. Unfortunately, when he had that extra money, he didn't spend it in the wisest of ways and it led to one of the darkest periods in his life.

My friend reflected on how happy he is now because he knows that he is right where God wants him. His position might not be one that the world bestows importance upon, but he is making a difference right where he's at with his positive attitude and his love for people over power and wealth.

His words served as a reminder to me. A reminder that moving up in the world is not always moving up. What seems like a promotion may not really be one -- it depends on what's important to you.

What are we willing to sacrifice to move up in the world? Are we willing to sacrifice time for our families, time for our friends, time for God? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves?

It was funny because only a few days before I spoke with my friend, I had read this verse from 1 Timothy 6:6 -- "True religion with contentment is great wealth."

True religion is putting God and others above self, people above profits, self-sacrifice over self-serving. There is great contentment in that (though the world would have us think otherwise!), and on top of that if all of our physical needs are being met, that is all the wealth any of us should need. Thanks my friend for the reminder!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blind Date Art Exhibit: You're Invited!

This month I am excited to announce that I will be part of a unique exhibit called BLIND DATE at the Anderson Creative in downtown Canton, Ohio. Here is a little bit about the exhibit:

"This month, Anderson Creative is proud to resurrect the inaugural exhibit which put us on the map in 2010 - BLIND DATE: The Romance of Word and Image. In this novel interplay between the written word and visual image, 15 writers and 15 artists from around the country have been selected to collaborate with one another. Each writer received a piece of art from an artist whose identity remained secret to them. Each artist received a piece of writing from a writer whose identity was also kept hidden. Their job was then to respond with a new piece or art or writing. The result? 30 paired written and visual works that will hang alongside one another throughout May as part of our exhibit, BLIND DATE. And what's even more fun? The collaborators will not meet one another until opening night, when everything is up on the wall!"

Two of my written pieces are part of this exhibit, and I am very eager to see how the artist (whom I've never met or spoken to and whose identity is unknown to me) will interpret my work! The exhibit opens this Friday, May 6th at 6:00pm and runs until the end of the month. I will be at the Anderson Creative this Friday for the opening which coincides with Canton's First Friday (a time of great food, fun, and art for the whole family in the downtown area) and would love to see you there.