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Authors get 5 minutes to pitch their books at gathering

| Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Janet Carlisle of Verona, artist, illustrator and children's book author of 'Birds of a Feather.'
Stephanie Fultonn
Janet Carlisle of Verona, artist, illustrator and children's book author of 'Birds of a Feather.'
Samuel Hazo celebrates Pittsburgh in his memoir,
Submitted
Samuel Hazo celebrates Pittsburgh in his memoir,
Musician-author Heath Kipp of Fawn Township makes his event debut.
Submitted
Musician-author Heath Kipp of Fawn Township makes his event debut.
Murrysville author Gerald Miller will discuss his debut novel, 'Anna's Journey.'
Submitted
Murrysville author Gerald Miller will discuss his debut novel, 'Anna's Journey.'
Greene County nurse Amy Smith, author of 'Confessions of a Burnt-Out ER Nurse.'
Submitted
Greene County nurse Amy Smith, author of 'Confessions of a Burnt-Out ER Nurse.'
Therese Rocco, retired Pittsburgh assistant police chief, will present her memoir.
Submitted
Therese Rocco, retired Pittsburgh assistant police chief, will present her memoir.

The enthusiastic folks behind A Gathering of Authors believe that writers should be celebrated and given a moment in the spotlight.

That annual free admission showcase, with its entertaining “speed dating” format allowing writers five minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their books, returns Sept. 28 at Riverside Landing, Oakmont.

Genres ranging from fiction, mystery, history and memoir, to children's literature and “how-to” will be represented.

Among those making their debut at the event:

• Pittsburgh poet and essayist Samuel Hazo, founder of the International Poetry Forum, with his memoir, “The Pittsburgh That Stays within You”

• Therese Rocco, retired Pittsburgh assistant police chief, who gained national recognition by changing the way police handle missing children's cases, presents her memoir, ”Therese Rocco: Pittsburgh's First Female Assistant Police Chief”

• Greene County nurse Amy Smith, writer of a tell-all called, “Confessions of a Burnt-Out ER Nurse.”

• Pittsburgh's Mary Jo Sonntag, whose historical memoir, “Write, If you Live to Get There,” introduces readers to her pioneering ancestors who chronicled through letters their journeys across the American continent in covered wagons.

• Murrysville resident Gerald Miller, with his first novel, “Anna's Journey,” a generational story set in Pittsburgh about life's challenges, twists, turns and surprises.”

In being part of the Gathering, Miller says he wants to learn what others are doing to market their books and overcome the challenges they all face.

“Writers need a really loving showcase. We all love putting this thing together and hearing about how much fun it is. We wanted it to be fast-paced and a little quirky,” says Francine Costello, managing editor of Word Association Publishers, Tarentum, which represents authors worldwide.

Word Association created and presented the event with founders and authors Bill and Linda Davis of Brackenridge.

Costello did not want any long-winded lectures, “and I absolutely didn't want to see authors standing behind tables hoping and praying that someone would come over to buy their book,” she says. “I wanted to take all that away from them and have them treated like celebrities.”

Putting the authors literally on the clock gives guests plenty of time to shop at the pop-up bookstore, have their books signed, enjoy a cocktail and talk with the writers, she says.

With few exceptions, authors love the idea.

“We are the ones who are constantly surprised. People who have never spoken before anyone, stand up and nearly always wow us with their humor, grace and charm,” Costello says.

A Gathering of Authors, she adds, is for anyone who loves to read, appreciates the truly hard work that goes into writing a book, or has ever dreamed of writing and publishing a book.

“These authors, especially those who have been at it for a while, can provide a wealth of information,” Costello says. “Every time we host a gathering, we hear from tons of people who say, ‘You know, I didn't know if I was going to like it. But I had a great time. This is so much fun. More people should know about this!' ”

A question and answer session, hosted by Bill Davis, follows the last speaker.

This year, authors of what Word Association calls its “Backlist Best Sellers” will be introduced before the speaking program, as will writers with works-in-progress.

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune Review contributing writer.

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