My apologies for not updating my blog last weekend. I’ve been busy soaking up a bit of culture the last two weekends. Last Saturday was the annual CCAD Art Fair and this Saturday was the annual Ohioana Book Festival.
Neither my husband, nor I, had ever attended the CCAD (Columbus College of Art & Design) Art Festival, and I heard about it from an advert on WOSU morning radio. Tickets were only $5 and proceeds benefit CCAD student programming. The Festival contained three floors of art being sold by ‘top alumni and students.’
In a way, it’s like a tiny slice of the Columbus Arts Festival that’s held downtown by the river in early summer. It probably goes without saying that these are some very talented students with a bright future ahead of them. Had I had an unlimited budget (i.e., no husband controlling the purse strings), or a bigger house in which to display various items, perhaps I might have bought more, but we did our best to support the students.
Probably my favorite two purchases were the pink t-shirt that says, “Home is where the Art is,” (with a picture of a room in a house) and a necklace made out of a penny and a dime that almost resembles a $2 Canadian coin. Someone asked the artist, “Is it legal to make jewelry out of money?” Apparently it is not unless you plan to continue to try to use the coins as legal tender.
I also bought a cactus pin, a colorful, floral coin purse, an Ohio-shaped wooden coaster, a couple booklets, some stickers and a bunch of postcards. Andrew and I decided to get some art for our house, so we bought a couple mixed media pieces from an artist by the name of Mary Miller.
This Saturday I attended the annual Ohioana Book Festival which was held at a hotel in downtown Columbus. Andrew and I had only ever attended once before when it was held at the Ohioana Library located elsewhere in Columbus. Holding it at a hotel was a good idea because I think there were a lot more attendees at this one than when it was held at the other venue.
According to the program brochure, there were 120 authors of all different genres invited to the event (though I saw a sign indicating one or two weren’t able to attend due to extenuating circumstances). My friend, Karin, mentioned the festival to me, so I am grateful to her for reminding me about it. I’m only sorry she couldn’t attend.
After looking at the program schedule, I wanted to make sure to meet David Giffels, author of Furnishing Eternity,
his latest book about him and his father building a coffin together. I read about his book in the December 2017 issue of Ohio magazine, so I already knew I was going to purchase it at some point. I’m just lucky that he was attending the festival, so I also got my book personalized (To Cindy, with thanks and eternity…). During one of the panels he spoke on he told the audience the coffin is now serving as a bookshelf until needed, and is the first thing he and his wife see every day reminding him that every day is a gift.
I attended four different lectures with a cross section of authors.
The first one I sat in on was called “Gone to the Dogs: A conversation about man’s best friend, from inspiring stories of photographing rescue dogs to the selfless loyalty of canine service animals.” There were three panelists – two who had out photo books (Peanut Butter Dogs by Greg Murray & Rescue Dogs by Susannah Maynard), the other was a blind poet (Stephen Kuusisto) with his own seeing eye dog.
His latest book is called, Have Dog Will Travel. Surprisingly or not, he was more of a subject of fascination than the other two authors. In fact, there was a blind girl sitting in front of me who had all sorts of questions. Though I didn’t purchase any of their books, I hope to buy the next one the two photographers have coming out, and will probably get Mr. Kuusisto’s book from the library.
The next lecture I attended was called “Close to Home: Biographical and Autobiographical Stories of Family.” As Mr. Giffels was one of the panelist, I made a point to attend this one. Without any offense to the other authors, I had a hard time relating to them, so I found myself studying the program to see where the various authors were sitting so I could go meet some of them afterwards and get more books signed.
The third panel I attended was an unconventional choice for me being that I’m not very familiar with the genre, but always try to keep an open mind. “Cozy Mystery: Grab a cup of tea and a furry friend and enjoy this chat about the cozy side of mysteries.” Probably the closest I’ve come to reading a cozy mystery is the occasional Debbie Macomber book. I like the idea, but to me just feels a little frivolous and I need to be in the mood for that as I rarely ever read anything that’s not a memoir.
According to Wikipedia, “Cozy mysteries, also referred to as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Cozies thus stand in contrast to hardboiled fiction, which feature violence and sexuality more explicitly and centrally to the plot. The term "cozy" was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.”
I have to say that the lecture proved to be very interesting from a publishing point of view. For instance, I didn’t realize that cats are integral to Cozy Mysteries because they sell books. In fact, Olivia Matthews (author of a series of religious themed mysteries she described as a bit like Sister Louise meets “Murder She Wrote”) said her publisher’s assistant once asked if she could add a cat to her story (even though the book was nearly ready for publication).
She said she felt like a fraud because there’s a cat on the cover, but no cat in the story. I found that quite funny, but hardly surprising. I wish the author of Death by Eggnog, Alex Erickson,
had been on the panel. It would have been nice to have heard a male point of view in what seems to be a very female-dominated market (not surprising).
I should probably give a shout-out to Lisa Karon Richardson,
author of a series of Nancy-Drew like Cozy mysteries with titles like, The Counterfeit Clue and The Case of the Clobbered Cad (both of which I just bought on Kindle) and have the silhouette of a female on the cover, in a similar style to Nancy Drew books.
Speaking of Nancy Drew, I also bought Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini, which says on the cover: “The Secret Case of the Ghostwriter and Journalist Nancy Drew.” I had heard of this book quite awhile ago, but hadn’t yet gotten around to reading it (my life story!) When I saw it on a table amongst a stack of other autographed books, I picked it up and purchased it, then noticed that the author was actually there, so I got her to personalize it, “To Cindy, Happy Sleuthing.” (She came up with that on her own).
The last lecture I attended was also quite interesting, and I frantically took notes in between the various anecdotes. This one was simply called “The Creative Life” and featured Tom Batiuk (comic strip artist of Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean), David Giffels, Susanne Jaffe, and Margie Shaheed. Out of all the authors, I think I could probably best relate to Mr. Batiuk
who said he often has a hard time just concentrating on just one project at a time, and has notepads scattered all over his house (and one in his car) for jotting down ideas. He also said he sometimes procrastinates by doing things like “reorganizing my bookshelf.” Like most writers, I can relate to that. I got the impression that the other three authors are a lot more disciplined.
I may also feel simpatico with Mr. Batiuk as we’re both Kent State alumni (he graduated one year before I was born and Kent State forever went down in history). I am also familiar with both his comic strips, though I wouldn’t say I’m exactly a regular reader. I probably prefer the curmudgeonly Crankshaft to Funky Winkerbean (I was never in band, so perhaps it’s a little harder for me to relate).
Probably the best part of being somewhere like the Ohioana Book Festival is being among my “tribe” of fellow readers, though I don’t read nearly as much as I used to and usually prefer to read in small doses. I liked reading everyone’s bookish shirts
and noticed the book bags they all seemed to have. I brought my “dictionary” bag and wore my “So Many Books, So Little Time” (Café Press) shirt. I also like that there were a couple dozen tables representing various libraries and bookstores, writers’ associations, etc. I picked up some free swag including a pen that lights up, a pair of sunglasses, a water bottle, a cute little cuddly toy, and lots of free brochures. I can’t wait to go back next year!