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Genre is a State of Mind:
Books and Authors @ In Your Write Mind

June 25th, 2018

The genre stars came out on Saturday night for the latest installment of the In Your Write Mind book event – a massive gathering of science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, romance, and YA writers that’s held each June at Seton Hill University.

This was my first time back at IYWM in four years. June is always such a busy month. But this year provided a chance to swing through Greensburg on my return from Fantastic Fiction at KGB … and I’m glad I did.

Held in Seton Hill’s new Performing Arts Center, the event featured over 35 genre writers and hundreds of titles. It also gave students in SHU’s graduate writing program the opportunity to mingle with alums, residency writers, publishers, and other genre professionals.

Among the publishers were John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes (left) of Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books. Now in their fifteenth year of publishing, Jennifer and John have been taking part in IYWM events since their inception. As in past years, they were joined at the event by many of their writers, including Michael A. Arnzen – the four-time Stoker Award winner who was instrumental in starting the Writing Popular Fiction program at SHU.

Also present with a long list of titles was William H. Horner (right) of Fantasist Enterprises. Now in their sixteenth year, FE is known for books that combine the work of genre writers and graphic artists to create anthologies, collections, and novels with a focus on strong writing and dynamic design. After taking a hiatus on new titles in 2014 (which allowed Will time to focus on teaching and conducting workshops), FE has returned with a new edition of my collection Voices: Tales of Horror (one of five titles that I worked on with them) and plans for some exciting web-based content in the months ahead.

Among the writers present at the event were Albert Wendland, who was signing advance copies of his forthcoming science fiction novel In a Suspect Universe; and Scott A. Johnson, who arrived with his fresh-off-the-presses horror novel Shy Grove: A Ghost Story.

Indicative of the diversity of authors and books featured at IYWM were Priscilla Oliveras (romance) and Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (fantasy) with their contrasting red and black displays.

Priscilla and Genevieve are among the many graduates of SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction program who returned to Greensburg to take part in IYWM.

In all, this year’s book event was the perfect place for genre writers and readers to gather on a summer evening.

Special thanks go out to Deanna Sjolander, who successfully wrangled the participating authors and publishers and made it all look easy. That’s Deanna in the photo to the right, purchasing a book from Dog Star author J. L. Gribble. Deanna is currently working on programming for the upcoming World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, and her involvement has me thinking seriously about registering for the con before it fills up.

There’s more, of course. I’ve barely scratched the surface. If you attended IYWM and feel like adding to this recap, please feel free to post a comment. It’s always good hearing from people who visit this site, and getting feedback on particular stories helps gauge the kind of posts that best connect with readers.

I hope to be posting again soon with some previews of the rapidly approaching Fantasia Film Festival and the premiere of Nightmare Cinema. Until next time … scop on!

Images

  • In Your Write Mind banner from the organization’s Facebook Page.
  • John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes of Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books.
  • William H. Horner of Fantasist Enterprises.
  • Priscilla Oliveras (romance) and Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (fantasy) with their displays.
  • Writer wrangler and author Deanna Sjolander with J. L. Gribble.
  • Michael A. Arnzen and the 21st-Century Scop hanging out at the Fantasist display.
  • All photos (with the exception of the IYWM banner) copyright © 2018 bt The 21st-Century Scop. 

Have Stories: Will Travel

October 27th, 2013

The Scop Road to BrightonContinuing the tradition of the traveling bard, the 21st Century Scop will be hitting the road this week, heading off to England to give readings at the University of Brighton on Wednesday, October 30 (5:30 PM), and then at the World Fantasy Convention’s Reading Café on Saturday, November 2 (12:30 PM). If you’re going to be in the area, I’ll hope to see you there.

Naturally, I also plan to spend time networking with colleagues at both the University and World Fantasy, taking part in the oldest form of social media – face to face contact.  We are creatures of nuance, and much of what we have to teach to and learn from one another comes across best in real conversation.

It’s the same with story performance, during which skilled readers pick up queues from their listeners and adjust their deliveries accordingly. Therein lies the quality that sets live readings apart from any other story deliver system. When storyteller and audience share the same physical space, magic happens.

Raw Dog Book Route: (A) Michael Arnzen at CMU. (B) Stephanie Wytovich at Big Idea. (C) Matt Betts at Muse Stand. (D) Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books. E) Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s.

I had a chance to watch this in action last weekend, when Raw Dog Screaming Press unleashed five of their top writers on Pittsburgh, sending them out to present a series of readings at five different bookstores: Michael A. Arnzen at the CMU Bookstore, Stephanie Wytovich at The Big Idea Bookstore, Matt Betts at The Muse Stand, Heidi Ruby Miller at Station Square, and Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s Used Books. The readings started at 1:00 and continued until 6:00, following a course of some dozen miles.

I caught the last session at Eljay’s, where I settled into the front row while rain hammered the storefront window. Outside it was gray and cold, traffic racing by in a haze on West Liberty Avenue. But inside it was warm and cozy. The perfect atmosphere for a reading.

Jason Jack MillerJason shared a couple of excerpts from the Revelations of Preston Black, engaging the audience with his folksy just-friends-shooting-the-breeze style. It’s a voice that comes across in the writing, but hearing it live really enhances the story’s tone. And the rain tapping the wall of glass behind him added a nice rhythm to the narrative.

Of course, live performance is always an adventure. I’m sure there must have been times when an Old-English scop found himself upstages by distractions in or around the mead-hall. That’s more or less what happened to Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books when a train decided to ruble past Station Square during her scheduled reading slot. No matter. Heidi scopped on, bringing her presentation to Eljay’s and delivering it after Jason concluded his reading, making for a terrific conclusion to the day-long event.

Heidi Rubi MillerHeidi read from her novel Greenshift, which is available through Dog Star books, Raw Dog’s science-fiction imprint.

Other people sighted at Eljay’s were Kevin Hayes, Laurie Mann, Diane Turnshek, and Karen Yun-Lutz – all members of Parsec, an organization devoted to the promotion of literary science-fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative fictions.

A nice contingent or Raw Dog and Dog Star authors were also there, including Michael A. Arnzen, Albert Wendland, K. Ceres Wright, and Stephanie Wytovich.

Of course, Raw Dog founders John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes were also on hand.

It was a great time, and I wish I could have stayed around for the dinner that followed. Instead, I headed out into the rain and made my way across town to do some scopping of my own at Riley’s Pour House.

Next up, we’ll revisit the topic of flash fiction with some questions submitted by the good people who attended my recent PAISTA presentation. Then I’ll be following the scop road to the University of Brighton and World Fantasy.

Scop on!