Heidelberg University kicked off its Patricia Adams Lecture series Thursday with a dinner and keynote speech from an award-winning author.
Donna VanLiere is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly 15 novels, including "The Christmas Shoes," "The Christmas Blessing," "The Christmas Hope" and, most recently, "The Good Dream."
Her Christmas series have been adapted into films on CBS and Lifetime Television.
VanLiere visited Tiffin-Seneca Public Library for a "Meet the Author and Book Signing" Wednesday. She read a few passages from her newest book, which was released in July.
"For those who ask, 'The Good Dream' would possibly be my favorite book that I have written, along with 'The Angels of Morgan Hill,'" VanLiere said.
Thursday, she gave presentations to the student body and Tiffin community on
Heidelberg's campus on creative writing, marketing and social media, writing and getting published, and excelling in a cynical world.
A dinner and keynote speech, titled "The Power of Story," concluded the two-day event. More than 300 attended the dinner, which was sponsored by Mercy Tiffin Hospital, National Machinery, Reineke Family Dealerships and Tiffin Aire Inc.
"She is one of the most inspirational writers of the time," Patricia Adams said in introducing VanLiere.
VanLiere's speech was about how our stories are not our own and that sometimes they are too short.
She said many people email her, asking her to turn their lives into books.
"People want their lives on paper," she said. "Every life has a story and it is the truth that you live out day-to-day and one that you read every day."
People's stories are impactful and are great experiences, she said.
Some are great, such as getting a college acceptance letter or opening a coffee shop. Some are tragic, such as burying the dead or losing a house or bank account.
"It is the way all great stories go," VanLiere said.
"We live our lives the way we would want them to be read," she said, "Our stories are not just about me or our neighbor's about him. They are about us and being together through the power of our stories."
VanLiere was born and raised in northeastern Ohio and graduated from Ceadarville University with a B.A. in Theatre and Broadcasting. She currently lives in Franklin, Tenn. with her husband Troy and their three children Grace and Kate, who they adopted from China, and David, adopted from Guatemala.
VanLiere has a writing process she follows.
"I first have to know the beginning and the end of a book," she said. "Then I outline it chapter by chapter."
It takes discipline to be an author, VanLiere said.
"You have to keep reading and study books that you love to read. I always encourage people to start a blog and just keep writing and developing the story," she said.
VanLiere is the fall speaker for the Patricia Adams Lectures.
"She was chosen because she is different than the other speakers that we have had," said Kathryn Venema, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations.
This is the fifth lecture in the Patricia Adams series since the program began in 2010. Adams wanted a program that promoted women and leadership and to showcase women's personal and professional journeys and how they were powerful and impacted many lives.