The Stories We Share

Ellen Smith
5 min readMay 27, 2022

The Gaithersburg Book Festival reminded me why I write. The next day, Zain Asher’s book discussion reminded me why I read.

Many writers are introverts. I am no exception. However, as much as I treasure my quiet time to read and write, some events in the bookish community are just too exciting to pass up. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend two back-to-back! After Saturday’s Gaithersburg Book Festival and Sunday’s book discussion with Zain Asher, I’ve never felt more fulfilled as a writer and a reader.

These are strong words for a woman who would happily make like Thoreau and hole up at Walden for years on end. But, as I was reminded this weekend, I don’t write or read to escape community. We share stories to engage with each other, to find out who we are and how we can lift each other up.

This is what I was thinking as I loaded up the trunk of my car in preparation for the Gaithersburg Book Festival. My goal as an exhibiting author isn’t necessarily to sell books — although I’m grateful that I did fairly well on that end. My primary goal is to build relationships. I hope to leave book festivals with the names of other local authors who want to collaborate and local readers who want to stay in touch.

Since Gaithersburg was my first in-person book festival since the release of Any Second Chance, I was finally able to share an activity that’s been on my mind since I began drafting the Time Wrecker Trilogy. I invited readers to join me in folding 1,000 origami cranes.

In Any Second Chance, Mara takes on this project herself in an effort to heal and, at the same time, reclaim her identity. Although Mara looks very much like her Japanese-American mother, she knows almost nothing about this part of her heritage. What Mara does know is primarily learned from books and movies, not from her family.

Although Mara’s particular circumstances and her need for healing is a work of fiction, the tradition of senbazuru (folding a thousand paper cranes) is very real. The Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima, Japan welcomes people from around the world to fold and donate cranes to demonstrate a wish for peace. I have set the goal to fold a thousand cranes to donate. As many do (including Mara in my book), I discovered early on that folding so many cranes requires…

Ellen Smith

Loving life as a left-brained #writer and a right-brained #author! For more on my #freelance or #fiction, connect with me at