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The Stars Align

October 19th, 2013

flotsam-wfcI’ve just heard from a good friend who has a membership to the  World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. The convention sold out over six months ago, and since then memberships to the international gathering of writers, editors, publishers and fans have been trading like stock futures. If you’re interested in fantastic literature, WFC is definitely the go-to event of the year. But my friend tells me that he thinks he might skip it, toss the membership, stay home and get some writing done. Crazy? Maybe, but I can sympathize. The pull of unfinished work is strong . . . but sometime you have to resist.

This fall season has been amazingly busy, with the Baltimore Book Festival a few weeks back, the PAISTA Conference earlier this week, a performance at Riley’s Pour House tonight, and events at the University of Brighton and World Fantasy’s Reading Café coming up later this month.

1383702_10151609605645426_1348373447_nAnd there’s more.

Today, some of my good friends at Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books are holding a bookstore crawl in Pittsburgh, with events kicking off this afternoon at 1:00 with four-time Bram Stoker winner Michael A. Arnzen reading and signing at the Carnegie-Mellon Bookstore in Oakland. After that, Stephanie Wytovich appears a couple miles north at The Big Idea Bookstore on Liberty Avenue. Then it’s ten blocks west for Matt Betts at The Muse Stand at 3:00. After that, at 4:00, Bradley’s Books at Station Square will play host to Heidi Ruby Miller before the day wraps up with Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s in Dormont.

An amazing day!

There’s no way I’m going to miss dropping in on the Raw Dog writers before heading to Riley’s for a sound check. Seriously, if you live anywhere near Pittsburgh (say within 100 miles or so), you owe it to yourself to make at least one of these appearances. Yes, I know, there are other things to do, but who knows when these stars will align again?

In the days to come, watch this space for a couple of follow-up reports. One from PAISTA (where the good people who attended my presentation on Flash Fiction provided some terrific questions that I’d like to respond to here) and another on today’s events. After that I hope to get to at least one WFC preview before crossing the pond to the UK.

Stop back soon. More to come.

Until then, scop on!

Book City

October 2nd, 2013

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAI sometimes get the feeling that we book people are citizens of a kind of portable municipality, a diffused city that reforms around various conventions, conferences, festivals, symposiums, and literary events.

We’re united by the love of story, the feel of books, and the knowledge that vicarious experience can be as meaningful and real as life beyond the covers, and I was reminded of all these things within minutes of arriving at last weekend’s Baltimore Book Festival.

After a five hour drive through two states, passing anonymous drivers and stopping at service plazas inhabited by total strangers, I was at the festival less than a minute before I heard someone calling my name. And that was pretty much how things went the entire day, running into old friends, making new ones, and reconnecting with parts of a community that periodically coalesces around major book events.

And of course there were the books that bind us together, acres of them on display in festival tents and even more (five stories of them!) in the main atrium of the Peabody Library, located adjacent to the festival. (See above.)

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAAdditional highlight were running into the people at Raw Dog Screaming Press, in particular K. Ceres Wright, whose Cog was released under the Raw Dog sf imprint Dog Star Books. Ceres was one of my students at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program, a contingent that was well represented at the festival. That’s the 21st Century Scop on the right with three WPF graduates — Jennifer Della Zanna, Heidi Ruby Miller, and Hanna Gribble. (Heidi is also the editor of the book Many Genres, One Craft.)

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAMy day at the festival centered on the tent run by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, where I took part in a well-attended panel titled “Keeping the Future Beat: Music in Fiction.” The panelists were both authors and musicians, and afterward I got to join Catherin Asaro and Sarah Pinsker (pictured at left) in an evening of musical performances that continued until the SFWA reception and a book launch for L. Jagi Lamplighter’s new YA novel The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin.

As always, it passed too quickly.

I’m back home now,  looking forward to rejoining the Book City at PAISTA on October 17 and Word Fantasy at the end of the month. I’ll hope to see some of you at those.

Until then, scop on!