Find a good book, learn to write your own at Allegheny Valley forum
Ever wanted to write your own novel one day?
Ever wondered what it takes to get it published?
Or, maybe, you just want to shop around for a good book.
Bring your questions and curiosity to a book event Nov. 20 hosted by the Community Library of Allegheny Valley.
A dozen local authors, many residing in the Alle-Kiski Valley, will convene under one roof, hosting an evening of all things literary at the third annual “Gathering of Authors.”
Attendees can mingle with the authors and pick their brains on what it takes to write, get published or just get the scoop on their books. Admission is free.
Bill and Linda Davis of Brackenridge created the event in 2012.
It’s sponsored by Tarentum-based Word Association Publishers, owned by Tom and Francine Costello. The self-publishing company, founded in 1998, selects, accepts and edits submitted manuscripts.
“We have many new authors this year,” Linda Davis says. “Last year, we had a wonderful turnout, and it was standing-room-only. We would like to have even more authors but are limited by the size of the venue.”
Kate Woods of Lower Burrell recently published her first book, “Faith in Avalanches,” and is a newcomer to this year’s event.
“Because of the title of my book, many people are inclined to believe that the book is about a religious type of faith, but it’s actually edgy contemporary fiction,” Woods says. “My book has murder, mayhem, mystery, conflict, betrayal, love, vengeance and karma. I hope it will keep the reader’s heart beating and your mind racing to the last page.”
Woods recently held her book launch at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont and says she loves to write. “It is my passion.”
Seasoned educator Dede Faltot Rittman, a graduate of Highlands High School and a McCandless resident, taught English in North Allegheny School District for 35 years. For more than 30 of those years, she worked with underachieving and special-needs students.
Her first book, “Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop From a Master Teacher,” offers information about classroom management and discipline, school politics and tips for new teachers.
“My nickname was the ‘bunny teacher,’ because I called my students that,” Rittman says. “I started my book project more than 10 years ago but had to shelve it for a while to take care of my husband (Scott Rittman, who succumbed to colon cancer in 2012).”
Rittman writes that those about to enter the classroom must be prepared “to serve as a parent, psychologist, nurse, friend, mentor, mediator, confidante, counselor and role model.” She says she’s been all of those in her career.
Attorney and author Chip Bell of New Kensington will return this year. He’s sold more than 100,000 books on amazon.com. His thrillers feature lead character Jake Sullivan, and his latest book released this year is “One Particular Harbour,” named after a song by Jimmy Buffett, of whom Bell is a huge fan.
“I was sitting in my office one day in 2010 on a cold day and wondered how things were in Key West (where he frequently vacations),” Bell says.
“It was a Friday, and I looked over at a picture of my youngest daughter, and our favorite song when she was growing up was ‘Come Monday’ by Jimmy Buffett, so I wondered if I could write a novel that would detail an episode that occurred during a weekend — it began on Friday and ended on Monday — and that’s how I wrote my first book. And, of course, after that, they just sort of came along.”
With a busy career as a trial attorney, Bell has no intentions of retiring, but he has set a goal of writing two novels per year.
“I like our ‘Gathering of Authors’ event, because it is an overall good experience where I get to meet people, answer their questions and speak with the other authors, too,” Bell says.
Another newcomer will be Pittsburgh author Mary Jo Sonntag; her book is “Write, If You Live to Get There.” The story traces her Phillips ancestors’ westward expansion from Vermont to the Sierra Nevada mountains chronicled by 120 years of family letters.
“This is my first book, and I am looking forward to this event so I can meet book lovers and share my story with them,” Sonntag says. “This event offers many different types of books and authors.
“My family genealogy came from England, and we believe they traveled over to America on the Mayflower,” she says. “They fought in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 and settled in Vermont.
“They traveled from Vermont to Western Pennsylvania, then went to Kansas, Illinois and, finally, to the Lake Tahoe area of California,” she says.
Bill Davis returns, penning the “Clive Aliston Mystery Series,” and accompanying him this year is his grandaughter, Madison Davis, a fifth-grade student at Grandview Elementary School in Tarentum.
“I love being the mascot of this event,” Madison says. “I think it is cool that people get to learn and meet the authors. I enjoy helping, too.”
“This is our third year; we are working out the kinks, trying our best, and making it better each year,” Linda Davis says. “All of the books will be available for purchase, so come enjoy a great evening meeting the authors.”
Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.