Five years ago, three local writers got together to not only support one another, but to also create an annual event to celebrate writers and connect them with readers.
“Our goal was to create an opportunity to celebrate authors and readers with a book expo in Dayton,” says Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, author and book publishing entrepreneur. Valerie joined forces with local writers Charlotte L. Brown and LaTonya M. Branham to create the first Dayton Book Expo in 2009. All three women write about spiritual issues. “Our first year was a success, with about 200 attendees.”
The upcoming event will take place Saturday, May 3, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at the David H. Ponitz Conference Center at Sinclair Community College (444 W. Third St., Dayton), in the Great Hall of Building 12.
While the event is free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to visit the event’s website (www.daytonbookexpo.com) to pre-register for a chance to win prizes at the event. “This year, we anticipate welcoming 600 readers from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan. It’s great to realize we’re drawing readers from such a wide area to Dayton.”
For the younger reading set, the event’s “Kidz Zone” will provide children’s activities. Aspiring writers will gain insight and information from panel discussions about writing and publishing.
Valerie says that 55 authors of books of all genres, for adults and children, will share their work and have books for sale at the fifth annual Dayton Book Expo. “During our first few years, all of our authors were self-published,” she says. “Now, many of our authors are self-published, but we’re drawing traditionally published authors as well. We have authors who join us from our area but also from New York, Florida, and many other areas.”
In addition to being a writer herself, Valerie is an enthusiastic advocate for writers. Valerie moved to the Dayton area with her family when she was in the first grade. After graduating from Trotwood High School, she began working for Delphi in industrial engineering. Eventually, Valerie earned her MBA from University of Dayton. After 26 years at Delphi, Valerie now is an adjunct math instructor at Sinclair Community College and at Central State University.
“Engineering and math have actually prepared me well as a publisher,” Valerie says. Her books are published by her company, Pen of the Writer (penofthewriter.com); she has also assisted about 30 writers with self-publishing endeavors through her company. “I see myself as a problem solver, and so I greatly enjoy helping writers figure out their publishing goals as well as the most efficient way to bring their books into the world with both high quality and a manageable, reasonable investment.”
Valerie applies her problem-solving approach to pulling off the large, and growing, annual Dayton Book Expo. She focuses on publicity and marketing, while her co-founders line up sponsors and volunteers for the day.
“It’s really a three-woman show,” Valerie says. “Charlotte, LaTonya and I have created a limited liability company to put on the event. Most of the money we bring in goes right back out into marketing the event and promoting our authors. We do have volunteers for the day, for whom we’re very grateful, and of course we’re also quite grateful for our sponsors.”
The events sponsors include Sinclair Community College, Antioch University Midwest, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton City Paper, Dayton Weekly News and many others. The full list is on the event’s website.
Valerie, whose author site is www.ValerieJLColeman.com, offers this advice for aspiring writers: “Be persistent about learning your craft, but also learn everything you can about the business of publishing and what you’re getting into.”
Learn more about the event’s cofounders at www.CharlotteLBrown.com and www.latonyabranham.com
• Tuesday, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene, Beavercreek: Best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick will introduce the paperback version of “Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution.”
• Wednesday, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene: David Lubar will introduce his newest children’s book, “Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales,” the latest book in his hilarious and creepy series.
• Sunday, 7 p.m., Dharma Center of Dayton, 425 Patterson Road, Dayton: Gem City Poetry Stage. (New meeting location.) Poets Jerry Roscoe (“Solving for X”) and Fred Andrle (performing poet and longtime host of “Open Line” on WOSU/NPR radio in Columbus) will be the featured poets; open mic to follow.
• Mondays, April 28-May 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m., “Craft Class: Character,” presented by Word’s Worth Writing Center, at Oakwood Starbucks (Conference Room), 2424 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood: Instructor Katrina Kittle (“Reasons to be Happy”) will share techniques for strengthening your characters, developing their backstories and creating their voices. Register at www.wordsworthdayton.com.
• Wednesdays, April 30-May 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m., “Craft Class: Symbols,” presented by Word’s Worth Writing Center, at Flyboys Deli (upstairs meeting room), Oakwood Starbucks (conference room), 2424 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood: Instructors Katrina Kittle (“Reasons to be Happy”) and Darren McGarvey (founder, Word’s Worth Writing Center) will lead participants in looking at classics as well as their own works to find the power behind ordinary objects in the stories to heighten plot and character. Register at www.wordsworthdayton.com.