Tree of Life survivor among ‘A Gathering of Authors’
An author alone in a bookstore bothers Francine Costello.
“I hate to see authors sitting in a bookstore waiting for people to come and buy books so they can sign them, and no one is there,” said Costello, co-owner of Word Association Publishers in Tarentum. “They are all by themselves. Having a group of authors in one place with their books is so much better.”
That’s why Word Association began hosting writers for an evening to share their stories and talk about their books in a room full of people who are avid readers.
On Oct. 24, the 12th annual “A Gathering of Authors” will be held at Riverside Landing in Oakmont. There will be a diverse range of genres and subjects.
Doors open at 5 p.m. Author presentations begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session. There will be a Pittsburgh favorite — a cookie table. The event is free.
“Riverside Landing is the perfect size,” says Costello, who with her husband Tom guides writers through the book publishing process. “It’s a wonderful space where guests and authors can enjoy an evening focused on reading good books.”
There will be a pop-up book store. Each of the dozen authors with their latest publications will have five minutes to share information about their book from talking about it to even — as one author did — performing a dance.
The authors include a woman from Greenfield who survived the Tree of Life shooting, an O’Hara dentist and a mother of three sons from Fawn.
‘Pockets of Danger’
Pockets hold more than smartphones, keys and wallets.
They can contain phone numbers of loved ones you want to contact to let them know you are alive, the keys to get in your car to drive safely home and the value of life that can’t be measured in dollars.
With no pockets in which to carry anything, Audrey N. Glickman wasn’t able to call loved ones, unlock her car door or have the proper identification in the moments after surviving the Tree of Life shooting on Oct. 27, 2018.
While the important personal items men carry in their pockets were on their persons, her items were isolated in a purse inside the synagogue — which became a crime scene, meaning she didn’t have access to her belongings for days.
She had escaped to another room.
“The first words out of my mouth, as we escaped behind a door, were, ‘My cellphone is on the bench,’ “ she said. “My possessions were all still inside the crime scene. Thus I could not alert my sons and worried friends and others I was still alive. Needless to say, not having large pockets was a matter of life and death.”
Her book, “Pockets: The Problem with Society is in Women’s Clothing,” is lighthearted in nature but brings up a serious issue.
“We have become a society rife with pocket devices,” Glickman writes in her book. “We carry our devices wherever we go, we work with them, we play with them, we nag ourselves with them, we date through them, we connect by them.
“We carry them with us from the moment we awake to the moment we go to sleep, and then some,” she writes.
Yet there aren’t many options for women’s clothing with large pockets. Glickman is out to create a conversation about pockets as well as reach clothing manufacturers to include pockets — deep pockets.
She was leading the service in the synagogue, so that’s why her purse was not close by when the shooter entered.
The experience became the catalyst for her to finish a book that was in the making for five years. The final chapter “Pockets of Danger” recalls that fateful day.
She wrote and illustrated the 133-page book, her first.
Glickman loves books — when she sees a book, she buys a book. Real books — those you can hold in your hand and turn the actual pages — are so important, she says. If all of our books are electronic and someone pulls the plug on us, all that information will be gone, she says.
“I am so excited about this event,” she says. “I have not done anything like this before. I hope I can live up to the status of such high-profile authors. This is a great idea.”
She hopes her idea gets people talking and standing up for clothing with pockets. “We all need pockets,” she says. “It’s time to be revolting. Even brides need pockets in wedding dresses to hold tissues or other important items. We need pockets all the time. Your important valuables should be on your body. Women should not buy clothing unless it has pockets. I have built pockets in clothing, but we only have so much time in our lives we shouldn’t have to take the time to add pockets.”
A second profession
Carl A. Flecker Jr. is a dentist from Monday through Thursday and an author Friday through Sunday. He wrote his first novel at age 70.
The father of seven and grandfather of 16 was looking for a second profession since he knew he couldn’t be a dentist forever. So he turned to writing.
According to his website, Flecker describes himself as an American writer of mystery/detective/thriller fiction. His novels feature the hero Crete Sloan, who labels himself as an “international mercenary for the good guys.”
Sloan fights wars no one else will take on — not political wars, but private wars. He finds kidnap victims, brings justice to the victims of rape and murder, recaptures stolen property and returns it to the rightful owners.
The title of each novel is a 1950s rock ’n’ roll song, around which a short sketch is developed, then a very rough outline. Flecker then moves the writing forward a chapter at a time, not quite sure what will happen next, he says, except that the characters remain true to themselves.
He has written six books, including the one he will highlight at the event — “It’s All in the Game.”
He describes it as “Crete Sloan is out and at ’em again.” This time he is in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, and the oil fields of the Caspian Sea. He goes there to search for the kidnapped daughter of oil baron Frank Marcella.
“I was always an avid reader,” he says. “I wanted to do something with all of this reading I have been doing, so I decided to become a writer. If you like James Patterson and Robert B. Parker, buy the book,” he says. “You will like it.”
He says he often thinks of the words attributed to the sportswriter Red Smith: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Making reading enjoyable
Jennifer Callen-Naviglia, a mother of three sons, wrote “K-9 Merlyn Police Dog Extraordinaire” with her sister Leslee Green, a teacher from Ohio.
Callen-Naviglia decided to write a book to help youngsters who struggle with reading, like her boys — ages 13, 10 and 8 — have.
“I really wanted to help those children who have difficulty reading or a learning disability to learn to enjoy reading,” she says.
The book title came from a dog’s name — her husband Mike’s first retired canine, a German shepherd. Mike is the Allegheny Valley Regional Police chief.
She says the author event is wonderful because it’s an opportunity to mingle and network with other writers, as well as meet guests who are interested in her book, which is her first. Two more are in the works.
She says they are geared toward children in preschool through fourth grade. Her entire family has been part of the process, she says, including her sister who helped with finding the right words to complement the illustrations.
The book discusses such issues as bullying and is written from the point of view of Merlyn. The dog doesn’t talk, but the reader learns what he is thinking.
According to Callen-Naviglia, the story, illustrated by Felix Eddy, invites children into the life of a dog who graduates from the rigors of official K-9 training to become an police K-9 officer, patrolling alongside his friend and partner.
“I am very excited for the author’s event,” says Callen-Naviglia, whose husband is also planning to attend. “I will continue to write these books as long as there are young people out there struggling to read.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .