Good Days in the Capital City

The Capital City Book Fair

This past weekend (May 1-2) I attended the first Capital City Book Fair. The event was fabulous, reflecting the good people, businesses, and spirit that exists in Trenton, the capital of New Jersey.

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There are those who quote studies and statistics about the social ills that plague the Trenton community – crime, drugs, gangs and so on. There are those who intellectualized the city of Trenton without actually experiencing it. There are those who avoid coming into Trenton or rush to get out at the end of the work day. These are the minds of those who are closed to examining and challenging their own perceptions; minds that  base their perception of a community solely on the slant presented by mainstream media; or the minds of those who collectively condemn an entire community of people without participating in any meaningful or constructive dialog to understand who they really are.

These were not the people I talked with at the Capital City Book Fair. The people I met and connected with were a very diverse, engaging group who love their work, love connecting to others and sharing information.

The first writer I met was G.N. Boorse, a fine young author and blogger. His debut book,  Don’t Touch the Glass, is of the thriller/suspense genre, bordering on horror and literary fiction.  I also heard a really funny story from his dad about feeding babies at 2 AM!

I talked with Marie C. Collins, author of A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp, a sci-fi coming-of-age mystery adventure. She gave me some pretty sound advice for my own current writing project. After a discussion of my book, she referred to it as a memoir; up until that moment, I hadn’t seen it as such. I enjoyed and learned from our conversation.

Tracey Syphax, author of From the Block to the Boardroom, openly tells of his journey on the streets of Trenton (the “block”) to entrepreneurship and community leadership (the “boardroom”). I’ve known Tracey since he started his first business, Capital City Contracting. I need a new roof on my house and unwittingly became one of his first customers! In June 2014 Tracey was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change.

Another unique author I met was Roy Ziegler, author of several books, including his first fiction novel, Twilight of Separation. He has written books on the town of New Hope, NJ, which reminds me so much of Walnut Street in Shadyside, an artsy community in Pittsburgh, PA, my hometown. Roy knows Pittsburgh pretty well so my conversation with him was quite enjoyable.

Next I met Dynamo author Zach Lichtmann, who believes “The greatest story told is the fight to become who you want to be…” Dynamo is the story of a teen’s adventurous transformation from bystander to upstander. Zach also is a workshop facilitator and arts advocate who conducts Author Visits & Assemblies in schools, both live and via video conference.

While speaking with Zach he recommended that I also talk to Heather Gordon and so I did. Heather was there with her two beautiful children and we had a most delightful exchange. Heather, known as H. D. Gordon, is the bestselling author of The Alexa Montgomery Saga, The Joe Knowe Series, and The Surah Stormsong Novels.

Next I stumbled into the writing life of Sylvia Brown-Roberts. After just a few moments we realized that we knew one another from several years back so it morphed into a reunion of sorts, getting caught up on our children. Sylvia is the author of Behind Church Doors whose main character, NikkiMac has a colorful history and after coming to Christ faces the question we all face in that moment – Will she let God direct her steps now? Sylvia’s other novel, Beyond Church Doors invites us into NikkiMac’s world of urban grittiness and sass, where being a Christian means asking forgiveness when her anger at another woman leads to near tragedy.

Another great mind I met along the way at The Capital City Book Fair was that of Derrick T. Billups, a financial fitness educator. Derrick’s book, Changing Your Condition not Your Position, adds a new meaning to the term “PIMP” – People Interested in Monetary Prosperity. The book was written  to help individuals and married couples get a basic understanding of budgeting and daily money management.

I also met Kassahun Checole representing African World Press, Trenton’s local publishing company. In business since 1983, the mission of AWP is to provide high quality literature on the history, culture, politics of Africa and the African Diaspora. AWP has a catalog of books to enlighten, educate and engage children teens and adults.

Finally, for an event such as this, the presence of Trenton250 was the proverbial cherry on top. Trenton250 is a community-driven, long-range master plan that will guide Trenton to its 250th Anniversary in 2045. Its vision is based on a complete understanding of the city’s unique assets as well as the local, regional, and national trends that will ultimately impact its growth. Visit Trenton250/Learn to see how you can get involved.

There you have it…a wonderful day filled with wonderful people. Can’t wait for the next Capital City event! Maybe I’ll see you there.