Arts & Entertainment

Roselle Resident Brings Together Writers and Readers at Expo

Renaee Smith, founder of the Independent Author Book Expo, poses in front of her books. Credits: Fran Sullivan

ELIZABETH, NJ – Inspiration can come from many places, often when least expected. For Roselle resident Renaee Smith, a self-professed foodie, it came from a recipe. “I couldn’t find this recipe for a dish I wanted to make, so I began to play with the ingredients,” she remembered. “Then, a friend of mine suggested I write a book.”

The result was two cookbooks, Jamaica’s Forgotten Treats and Memba When, plus several children’s books. Eventually, writing led Smith to establish the Independent Authors Book Expo, which took place October 24 at the Crowne Plaza in Elizabeth.

“This is our second year,” said Smith. “We started with 15 authors and today we have 35. We even had to turn some away because of the size of the room. We couldn’t fit any more.”

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Authors came from Connecticut, Tennessee, and Indiana, as well as local writers. Their subject matter ran the spectrum from children’s books, adult fiction, self-help, cookbooks, and inspirational.

“The Expo gives authors a wider platform for people to see what they do,” said Smith.

Writers groups were also represented, including one based in the Second Baptist Church in Roselle. The members in the church’s Christian Writers Ministry, who range in age from eight years old to 90, have produced two books based on Psalm 23, Green Pastures and Still Waters. “It’s a way to bring generations together,” said group member Linda Jones, continuing to explain how writing groups act as support for authors. “We all have stories within ourselves, but we don’t know how to get that thought on paper.”

Assemblyman Jamel Holley also has a claim to authorship. When he was mayor of Roselle, he produced a coloring book illustrating the town’s history. It included the fact that Roselle was the first town electrified by Thomas Edison, along with other historic information largely unknown by residents. The simple coloring book served to educate the community about their history.  Observed Holley, “Small things can become reality when you put them on paper.”

For more information about the Independent Authors Book Expo, visit,

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