Since the first Ohioana Book Festival was held with ten authors in 2007, the festival has given readers the opportunity to connect with their favorite Ohio writers. In 2020 we will welcome 140 authors and illustrators to the virtual festival.


Use the YouTube playlists below to easily access panels and author content:

Panel Discussions and Roundtables

Hear your favorite authors talk about their books and their writing process, and ask them questions in our live sessions. We will be posting panels throughout the weekend, so check below to see when panels will go live. See below for panel descriptions, moderators and panelists.

FridaySaturdaySundayIndividual Author ContentOhioana In the CommunityOutreach EventsMedia Appearances

Friday, August 28


The Story of a Life: Memoir

Writing our own stories and digging into our pasts can be a challenging task. Join four writers as they discuss their process and experience in writing personal narratives told from the vantage point of real-life experience.

Moderator: Nancy Christie

Panelists: Dan Cryer, Claire Gebben, Jill Grunenwald, Erin Hosier


Journey to the Past: Historical Fiction

Reading can be like time travel. Reliving the stories and setting that came before us. Join our panelists to discuss their stories of tales set in the historical past and how they came to write these popular and exciting novels.

Moderator: Linda Feagler

Panelists: Steve Goble, Victor Hess, Jess Montgomery, David Selcer


Choose to Read Ohio 

Choose to Read Ohio spotlights Ohio authors and promotes reading across Ohio. The State Library of Ohio, Ohioana Library Association and Ohio Center for the Book encourage Ohioans of all ages to read and enjoy books together. Each CTRO booklist highlights selected books for a two-calendar-year promotion. Join current and former CTRO authors as they discuss these fantastic books.

Introduction: Janet Ingraham-Dwyer Moderator: Meg Brown

Panelists: Shelley Pearsall, Carmella Van Vleet, Mary Kay Carson, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Michelle Houts


50th Anniversary of Kent State

May 4, 1970 – the day four students were shot by the Ohio National Guard in a protest that turned violent. Fifty years later, there are still questions surrounding this tragic, controversial event. Our panelists include novelists who have written against the backdrop of the event, journalists, and someone who was there that unforgettable day.

(Please note: the opinions of the panelists do not reflect those of their respective employers/organizations. They would also like to us to include the following link to more information about the events at Kent State, which elaborate on the discussion:

https://www.nny360.com/top_stories/50-years-later-kent-state-shootings-have-left-impressions-misconceptions/article_dc6c01b3-b2f9-5271-b92b-6331cd36a6f6.html )

Moderator: Steve Abbott

Panelists: Sandra Gurvis, Chera Thompson, NF Johnson, Paula Stone Tucker


Columbus Stories

Columbus is a city of stories. Join our panelists – journalists, novelists, an editor, and even a zookeeper – as they discuss just a few of the varied, incredible tales that bring our capital city to life.

Moderator: David Weaver

Panelists: Beth ArmstrongBob Hunter, Amanda Page, Andrew Welsh-Huggins


LGBTQ+ Stories

For too long, the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community in Ohio have been untold – silenced, repressed. With the passing of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 and the legalization of same-sex marriage, doors have slowly begun to open. Join our authors, who write fiction, do podcasts and videos, and speak publicly about their own LGBTQIA+ stories, and discuss how more of those stories can be told and more voices amplified.

Moderator: David Siders

Panelists: Meredith Doench, Kristen Lepionka, Ken Schneck


Writing and Publishing: An Insiders Guide 

Join an experienced panel of writers, editors, and writing coaches as they discuss their varying journeys to becoming published, and the process it takes to write a book.

Moderator: Michelle Gubola

Panelists: Betty Weibel, Heather Shumaker, Jen Knox, Nan Kuhlman

Saturday, August 29


Ohio History

Five authors share stories from the rich past of the Buckeye State.

Moderator: Bill Eichenberger

Panelists: Tim CarrollKathleen M. FernandezMarci RichDavid Meyers, Elise Meyers Walker


Seeing the World From Home

The pandemic has put a hold on travel for most of the world. Join our panelists as they discuss traveling abroad – whether for the military or for pleasure – and the ways in which it changed their lives.

Moderator: Gillian Berchowitz

Panelists: Matthew CaraccioloDavid MouldCindy Thomson, Matthew J. Louis


How to Draw with Steve Harpster

Learn how to draw monsters and aliens!


Black Stories, Black Voices with Columbus Metropolitan Library

Four Black authors, writing in a variety of genres, share their experiences with poet Scott Woods, as they create art in this historic and unprecedented time. Hosted by Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Moderator: Scott Woods

Panelists: Lyn Ford, J.L. Raynor, Debbie Rigaudjw Smith


Conversation About Art

Our panelists speak with Ohioana’s director about the connection of creativity and imagination between art and literature.

Moderator: David Weaver

Panelists: Steve AbbottNannette MaciejunesMichael J. Rosen


Contemporary Fiction

Join our authors as they discuss how they write stories set in today’s landscape, as well as those authors who influenced and inspired them to become writers.

Moderator: Robin Nesbitt

Panelists: Patricia AverbachSusan PetroneBonnie ProudfootDon TassoneJohn Young


Poetry Discussion with Rachel Wiley and Marcus Jackson

Two Ohioana Award winners share their poems and creative process.

Moderator: Jamie Lyn Smith

Panelists: Rachel Wiley and Marcus Jackson


Love Is Complicated 

Love is great. Love is also stupid. Love is also frustrating, joyful, romantic, and can destroy you. Our panelists discuss what may be humanity’s most complex emotion, and how to express and write about love in all its forms.

Moderator: Jody Casella

Panelists: Kerry Winfrey, Sarah Anne Carter, Theresa Liggins, Jennifer Wortman

Sunday, August 30


Illustrating for Young Readers

Five of the most popular and creative illustrators describe the process of creating picture books for young readers.

Moderator: Becky Gehrisch

Panelists: Jeff EbbelerTerri LibensonJoe SutphinTim BowersLindsay Ward


Living Your Best Life

How does one “live their best life?” Join these panelists to find out how – all of them have advice for overcoming adversity – cancer, depression, weight gain, etc. – and how to keep the faith and trust your own instincts to become your best self.

Moderator: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

Panelists: Diana BossePia FitzgeraldConlee RickettsNita Sweeney


How to Draw with Steve Harpster

Learn how to draw animals!


Writing Great Genre Fiction

Get some tips on how to write a great genre story – whether it’s mystery, science fiction, fantasy, or your own genre. These authors will weigh in on how to tell a great story no matter what genre it is.

Moderator: Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Panelists: Sheldon GleisserAnne Marie LutzRichard J. NorgardTG WolffJohn Vanek


Adventures in Speculative Fiction

The best speculative fiction tells a story that is recognizable to all audiences – whether it includes spaceships, strange creatures, ghosts, or other things we don’t usually encounter in everyday life. These panelists are some of the best in the business. Listen to their advice on writing spec fic and learn about those writers who influenced and guided them.

Moderator: Robin Nesbitt

Panelists: Matt BettsLeanna Renee HieberLucy A. SnyderDan Stout

(Note from the panelists: They would like us to include the following links, one of which was slightly misspoken in the panel: Horror Writers Association – http://horror.org/ & Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America – https://www.sfwa.org/ )


Hidden Ohio

Did you know that Ohio is considered the home to Rock N’ Roll? Or that the beloved film The Shawshank Redemption was filmed in Mansfield? Learn that and so much more in this panel about the treasures of “Hidden Ohio.”

Moderator: Claudia Plumley

Panelists: Deanna R. AdamsConrade C. HindsE. F. SchraederMark and Becky Dawidziak


YA Discussion

A discussion with some of the best and brightest of Young Adult fiction writers.

Moderator: Jody Casella

Panelists: Cinda Williams ChimaDee GarretsonMindy McGinnisKimberly Gabriel

Individual Author Content

Our authors have been hard at work putting together content for you! Please click here after 7pm on Friday, August 28 for a listing for readings, book trailers, story times and more!

Ohioana in the Community!

Check back for programs and activities featuring Ohioana Book Festival authors are free and open to the public and take place before the main event beginning on August 28th. Some will be streaming live, while others will be pre-recorded. All will be recorded and available for replay in the days following the event.

Outreach Events

Monday, August 17 – 7:00-8:30pm – Replay Coming Soon

SCBWI Panel: Across the Genres – The World of Children’s Books

Join the Ohioana Book Festival and the Central & Southern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for a live panel featuring Ohio authors and illustrators Krysten Lindsay Hager, Aiko Ikegami, Samuel Narh, and Julie Rubini! This free special event will take place from 7:00 – 8:30 pm on August 17, 2020 via Zoom.

From picture books and illustration to middle grade and young adult titles, the panelists will discuss their books and craft, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the wide world of children’s publishing. A live audience Q&A will also be included in this evening of kidlit fun!

Moderator: Becky Gehrisch

Panelists: Julie Rubini, Krysten Lindsay Hager, Aiko Ikegami, Samuel Narh

Thursday, August 20, 3:00-4:00pm 

Ohio Center for the Book: An Ohio Comics Conversation: Tom Batiuk and Jay Kalagayan with Dr. Valentino Zullo 

Tom Batiuk (creator of the long-running comic strip Funky Winkerbean) and Jay Kalagayan (creator, writer and publisher of MeSseD) join Ohio Center for the Book Scholar-In-Residence Dr. Valentino Zullo for a conversation about their use of comics as a storytelling medium, the state of comics in Ohio, and much more!

Panelists: Jay B. Kalagayan, Tom Batiuk

Moderators: Dr. Valentino Zullo

Thursday, August 20, 7:00-8:00pm 

Cincinnati Public Library: Queen City Crime

Join Bob Batchelor and Janice Hisle in partnership with the Cincinnati Public Library for a discussion of murder and mayhem in the Queen City! Come prepared with questions and get ready to explore the history, intrigue and mystery of true crime in Cincinnati.

Panelists: Bob Batchelor, Janice Hisle

Moderator: David Siders

Friday, August 21 2:00-3:00pm 

Story Time with Kate Hoefler at Cover to Cover Bookstore

Join us for a live story time with Kate Hoefler as she reads her picture book Rabbit and the Motorbike.

Monday, August 24 7:00-8:00pm 

Cover to Cover: Marvelous Middle Grade

Join us for a conversation with some of the most popular Middle Grade authors.

Panelists: Jenn Bishop, Dustin Brady, Tamara Bundy, Polly Farquhar, Jason R. Lady

Moderator: Bryan Loar

Tuesday, August 25 6:00-7:00pm 

Licking County Public Library: Nature and the Outdoors

Join Licking County Library for a live panel discussion about the joys of nature and the wealth of beautiful outdoor activities Ohio has to offer. 

Introduced by Kent Daniels Moderator: Dr. Susann Moeller

Panelists: Deborah Fleming, Kenn Kaufman, Mary Reed, Laura Grace Weldon

Wednesday, August 27 7:00-8:00pm 

McConnell Arts Center: Ultra Squad with Rafael Rosado and Julia DeVillers

Join the illustrator and writer of UltraSquad, Julia DeVillers and Rafael Rosado, for a live reading and drawing demonstration, hosted by McConnell Arts Center!

Introduced by: Erin Blue

Moderator: David Weaver

Friday, August 28 7:00pm

Virtual Poetry Night at the Book Loft

Our annual Book Loft Poetry night will not be stopped! Join Gary Lovely and all of our Ohioana Book Festival Poets for a great night of poetry reading!

Panelists: Darren C. Demaree, William R. Heath, Kiya Renae, Jim Reuther, James Alan Riley, Kezia Sproat

Moderator: Gary Lovely

Infinite Variety: Writing and Illustrating in All Its Forms with Paragraphs Bookstore

Paragraphs presents a conversation with some of the best and most creative writers and illustrators of Middle Grade and Young Adult poetry and nonfiction books. Enjoy their discussion of the creative process and the crossover appeal these books have to readers of all ages.

Moderator: Jody Casella

Panelists: Doug Coates, Kerrie Logan Hollihan, Tanny McGregor, Brandon Marie Miller, Dave Szalay

In the Footsteps of Nancy Drew: 21st Century Female Sleuths: Presented by Toledo Public Library in honor of the 90th Anniversary of Nancy Drew

2020 saw the 90th anniversary of the publication of the first Nancy Drew novel, by “Carolyn Keene” (pen name originally used by Toledo’s own Mildred Wirt Benson).  Our panel of popular mystery writers takes a deep dive into their own novels about amateur female sleuths, as well as the influence Nancy has had on their careers. 

Moderator: Carolyn Melvin

Panelists: Connie Berry, Amanda Flower, Anna Lee Huber, Julie Anne Lindsay, Olivia Matthews

Media Appearances

Kiya Renae on The Craft with Doug Dangler

Currently a doctoral candidate at Xavier University, 2020 Ohioana Book Festival author Kiya Renae has written three books: Through Her Own Eyes: This is Only the BeginningIt’s Ok to Be Broken: Highs, Lows, and Happy Mediums; and an as-yet untitled third book. Listen in to hear Ms. Renea share some of her writing and her story ahead of her participation in the virtual Ohioana Book Festival on August 28-30.

Jodi Andes on The Craft with Doug Dangler

Ohioana 2020 author Jodi Andes has worked at the Columbus Dispatch and was a senior investigator at The Ohio Attorney General’s office, where she conducted an inquiry into the con artist Bobby Thompson, the subject of her book, Master of Deceit. Listen in to hear why this conman was able to get access to the top American politicians of the time, like George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, while defrauding American veterans of $100 million.

Doris Caceres-Schumick on The Craft with Doug Dangler

My father was a school administrator for many years and I heard his enthusiasm for schools throughout my childhood. So I was intrigued by the title of Doris Caceres-Schumick’s book Public School Teaching Sucks, Period.: A Memoir of a Special Education/ESL Teacher . She’ll be an author with the virtual 2020 Ohioana Book Festival on August 28-30, but you can hear about what makes public school teaching suck on this broadcast.

Ohio Humanities: Podcast Interview with Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz – Moderated by Pat Willamsen

Join a conversation between Ohio Humanities Executive Director Pat Williamsen and Ohio University professors Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz about the book and project, Not Far from Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio.

With support from Ohio Humanities, Ohio University medical school professors Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz launched a website that provides resources for facilitating community conversations and reducing stigma around the issue of opioid abuse.Skinner and Frantz have facilitated such conversations in libraries, community centers and other spaces in communities around Ohio.The site is a companion to Skinner and Franz’s co-edited book, Not Far from Me:Stories of Opioids and Ohio, which features more than 50 first-person accounts of the opioid crisis in Ohio. The book’s contributors include educators, medical professionals, sports coaches, teachers, community leaders, family members, and recovering opioid users. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland wrote the book’s forward.Of the book, the award-winning author of Dreamland, Sam Quinones, said: “As a journalist and storyteller, I’m convinced that only through stories of real people will the stigma surrounding addiction fade. Which is what makes projects like Not Far from Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio so important and worth reading. We hear from them all: doctors, addicts, poets, mothers, librarians, nurses, pastors, inmates and football coaches. Even though this volume is about one state, and only a few people from that state, together they tell one of the crucial stories of America today.”