Friday, May 20, 2016

Author and Artists Festival

     This past weekend I participated in a really fantastic event ~ The Shaler North Hills Library’s Authors and Artists Festival. If you visited the library on Saturday, you were probably shocked to realize that right here in Pittsburgh there are a ton of talented artists with amazing works in their portfolios. Beautiful paintings, postcards, and jewelry pieces adorned the festival room. I enjoyed perusing the collections as well as meeting each and every author and learning about their books.

     This post wouldn’t be typical Dana if I didn’t somehow get emotional here. I just have to say that when I’m in a room full of creators, I am reminded of my Creator. How amazing He is! How vast is His imagination to fashion people who weave beauty with words, with paint, with metal, with their minds and their hands.  In a world where ugliness and hate shout at me with every switch of the channel, I’m so happy I was able to spend one day away from all of that. It was wonderful to be in the company of inspired people who spread love on our broken world with the talents God has so graciously bestowed upon them.

     I want to introduce some of the people I met on Saturday. If you’re interested in their genres, check out their websites.

     Shaler Library’s Beth Lawry did a wonderful job of organizing and publicizing the event. There was a great turnout, and authors were grouped by genre to participate in talks that were scheduled throughout the day. Art pieces and books were available for purchase as well.

      I loved getting to talk to readers about my Whisper series, answering questions and discussing the inspiration behind the books. Really, though, what I love most about events like this is the camaraderie. Being in a room with twenty other writers is like finally settling into the spot where my puzzle piece fits.

     Jim Rugg – co-author of the graphic novel Street Angel and several other works. Street Angel is unique because the main character is a very unlikely superhero. A homeless girl whose favorite holiday is Haloween, Jess fights both real and fantasy characters to survive the streets. Jim Rugg  is a super talented artist. He taught me a little about how the world of comic book publishing works, and I enjoyed getting his unique take on the writing life.

     Heather McCoubrey – prolific romance author of Emily’s Choice. I noticed her books right away because of their gorgeous covers. Heather confided that she is currently working on a thriller-type romance, and that she is enjoying getting into the head of her serial killer character. Eeek. Seriously, though – check out these covers!

     Lorraine Roposh Beran – author of the award-winning YA novel – Secret Words. Lorraine and I spoke on the YA panel together and had an instant connection.  We share a love of tweens and teens as well as a history of working with this age group. She taught middle school for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh for several years and really has a heart for young adults. I bought Secret Words for my tween daughters, and I can’t wait to hear what they think.

     Leah Pileggi – author of YA historical fiction award-winning novel -Prisoner 88 . What really struck me about Leah was the amount of research she put into writing Prisoner 88, which is based on the true story of the nation’s youngest jailbird, a ten-year-old boy, who served five years in prison for murder. Not only did Leah go above and beyond when it came to research, but she actually enjoyed every minute of it. Historical is definitely her passion, and it comes out in her writing, which is gaining major attention. It’s even been translated into Korean.

     Jill Cueni-Cohen – journalist and author. Jill writes for the Post Gazette and Tribune Review and has recently published Like It Was Yesterday, a book about how 9/11 changed the face of our nation. Jill asked great questions during the author panels and was so enthusiastic. She is definitely a journalist, at heart! My favorite question of hers was – how has your life changed since you wrote your book? I could do an entire post on that question. It would be filled with angst and joy and a myriad of other emotions I’m sure.

     If you missed it this year, be on the lookout for next year’s Authors and Artists Festival. Also, be sure to check your local library’s schedule. Several of the libraries host events like these. I’ll be participating at a similar event at Fox Chapel Library sometime in October. Check out these talented authors too!