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Oak Crest Author Publishes Her Second Book

By Danielle Rexrode
May 20, 2024
Libby Smith, Oak Crest author

Maryland author Elizabeth "Libby" Smith recently published her second novel, The Coin Flip, based on a real-life voyage that began in County Cork, Ireland. 

Despite the far-off setting, she wrote it from her living room sofa in her apartment home at Oak Crest, an Erickson Senior Living community in Parkville, Md.

The Coin Flip is based on the true story of two friends--one being Joe Quigley, Libby's great-grandfather--who meet aboard an ocean liner headed from Ireland to America in 1857. The men shared the same dream of becoming Catholic priests, but since neither had the means necessary to attend seminary, they decided a coin flip would determine who would pursue their dream and who would pay the way. 

"It's a story about trusting in God's plan and purpose for our lives and how He can transform pain and heartache into joy and gladness," says Libby. 

From reader to writer

A lifelong reader, Libby describes treasured memories from her childhood and her love of books in the introduction on her website, 

"While growing up in the country, a treasured time during the summer was hiking to the nearby bookmobile. I have fond memories of walking inside and smelling the fragrance of the books and slowly feeling the crinkly plastic covers like they were gold. It was intoxicating…" writes Libby.

She began writing children's stories for fun when her now-adult children were small. Libby published her first book, Twin Strokes, in 2014 after discovering a lack of sports-related library books for middle school girls while working as a paraprofessional. 

Years in the making

In 2017, Libby unexpectedly received a newspaper article from her cousin. The article, published in 1958 by Jim Bishop, who wrote a column for King Feature Syndicates from 1957 until 1983, was titled "The Loser Really Was a Winner". To Libby's surprise, it was about her great-grandfather Joe.

"I had no intention of writing another book," says Libby. "But the article was so inspiring that, for six months, I kept thinking about it. I couldn't get it off my mind."

So, Libby put pen to paper and set out to share her great-grandfather's story, not knowing how his legacy would impact her future as a writer. 

"My great-grandfather was devastated when he lost the coin flip, but he kept his end of the bargain. Every week, he sent his friend a check to go through seminary, while praying for acceptance. Decades later, God revealed to him the reasons he lost, and he was overjoyed at the outcome of his life," says Libby.

Sharing her story

Since The Coin Flip was published, Libby has traveled to Irish festivals, conferences, and gift shops to promote her new book. She even appeared on Oak Crest's in-house TV station.

She relates to her audience by drawing from her own life experiences during her presentations. 

"I always tell my audience about some of the trials I have experienced and how, over time, I have gained peace and acceptance and learned that, in the end, it was all for the good," she says. 

"If I discovered any life lessons in writing this book, it would be to listen to my inner voice and the importance of persevering. Even when it's difficult, don't give up." 

With her second book now complete, Libby is focused on finding an illustrator for three children's stories, on which she is putting the finishing touches. 

Write at home

She credits the maintenance-free lifestyle at Oak Crest for all the free time she has to pursue her passion. 

"We looked at about five different retirement communities, and Oak Crest was the one we liked best because of its affordability and all the amenities," explains Libby, who moved to the community with her husband Dennis in 2015. 

"Plus, my mother-in-law lived at Oak Crest for about 12 years. We visited her quite often, so we were familiar with the community," she adds. 

Lots to enjoy

Since moving to Oak Crest, Libby's life has been enhanced with new friends and endless opportunities.

"We have made so many friends, and there are so many things to do here. I love to swim in the aquatics center, bake in our spacious kitchen, walk around campus, and read, of course. I'm on the Oak Crest Catholic Council, and I like volunteering," says Libby. "We love living here!" 

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