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Diversity reigns as authors gather in Oakmont

| Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
Carl A. Flecker Jr., O’Hara dentist and author of 'Only You.'
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Carl A. Flecker Jr., O’Hara dentist and author of 'Only You.'
The Table Ladies present their second mystery, 'Winter Comes,' written by the six residents of Longwood at Oakmont retirement community under the collective name of Octavia Long.
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The Table Ladies present their second mystery, 'Winter Comes,' written by the six residents of Longwood at Oakmont retirement community under the collective name of Octavia Long.
Rachel Schaffner of Avonworth is the youngest writer in A Gathering of Authors’ history.
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Rachel Schaffner of Avonworth is the youngest writer in A Gathering of Authors’ history.
First-time authors John and Sukey Jamison’s 'Coyotes in the Pasture. Wolves at the Door,' the two tale of their amazing success story with Jamison Farm in Unity.
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First-time authors John and Sukey Jamison’s 'Coyotes in the Pasture. Wolves at the Door,' the two tale of their amazing success story with Jamison Farm in Unity.
New England historian Robert MacDougall hopes to make American history enjoyable and accessible in his writing, including his new, 'Rants, Raves and Reflections of an American Historian.'
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New England historian Robert MacDougall hopes to make American history enjoyable and accessible in his writing, including his new, 'Rants, Raves and Reflections of an American Historian.'

John and Sukey Jamison of Unity already are known worldwide for their 210-acre Jamison Farm.

It annually produces 3,000 lambs destined for great cooks at home and the finest chefs and restaurants in the world.

With the publication of their first book, “Coyotes in the Pasture and Wolves at the Door” (Word Association, Tarentum), which tells their improbable story of struggles yielding success, they hope to build a reputation, even on a decidedly smaller scale, as authors.

The married couple, both English majors, left the corporate world to embrace life in the rolling farmland of Westmoreland County, uncertain how they were going to make a living.

The young parents of three children overcame financial challenges and their own lack of knowledge to turn Jamison Farm into a top producer of fine quality lamb.

“It’s a story that couldn’t have been made up,” says John Jamison, who says he and his wife are excited to introduce their book at Word Association Publishers’ annual A Gathering of Authors Sept. 27 at Riverside Landing, Oakmont.

The free program, with presentations by 12 writers, is billed as “the most unique book and author event of the year,” and regularly lives up to that reputation.

It has been called “the speed-dating of the region’s literary scene” because authors have less than 10 minutes to pitch their books to an audience that can enjoy a cash bar, live music, complimentary snacks, a pop-up book store, author book signings and an evening that ends with freshly baked cookies and hot coffee for everyone.

One of a kind

“As far as we know, there is still nothing like this Gathering anywhere else in Western Pennsylvania,” says Francine Costello, managing editor of Word Association, which represents authors worldwide.

It is important to have an event like this, she believes, “because independently published authors have to work really hard to get attention for their work and we feel, as publishers, showcasing these people is the very least we can do.”

Costello says that in the early years she and her husband, publisher Tom Costello, who reside in New Kensington, would marvel at the fascinating people they were meeting and publishing.

An idea whose time had come

When authors Bill and Linda Davis of Brackenridge proposed the idea for the Gathering “we loved it because we knew that if more people had this same opportunity they would love it,” Francine Costello says.

“We work really hard to make each year hopefully better than the last,” says Linda Davis. “Who would have thought we would be where we are now with this event. We started in 2012 at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley in Natrona Heights.

This year brings a group of new authors and authors with newer books and our ‘Backlist Best Sellers.’ ”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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