Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A note on November

Once again, I’m joining the ranks of amateur novelists, participating in NaNoWriMo.

And once again, I’m reminded how awesome Pittsburgh is: at last count we have over 30 writing events in November, so if you see a group of people frantically typing  (and possibly wearing silly hats), stop over and ask how their word count is doing.

I’ll be back later this week with some more posts, but I just wanted to drop in quickly.  If you’re interested in writing, it’s never to late to start, and we’re a great group to have fun with.  And besides, there’s always good food where we write/meet!

Book fair!


The United Way book fair continues today and tomorrow in the Steel Plaza T station.  I totally started my Christmas shopping!

Fleeting Pages

Fleeting Pages is a pop-up indy book store.  It opened yesterday in the former Borders in East Liberty (a short walk from the Busway), the idea behind the project is to take a former big-box book store, and create, for a month, a place where independently published books, magazine and works of art can flourish.

Their calendar is quickly filling up with free workshops and open mic nights, and it’s staffed by a slew of volunteers.

I’m really sad that this isn’t happening in November, this would be an awesome place to have NaNoWriMo write-ins, but I’ll be sure to go visit before their lease is up.  I’ll post some pictures from my trip, I just need to find the time.

Find out more information about Fleeting Pages here.

Crowdsourcing a new write-in location

As you’ve probably heard, Borders will be closing three local locations, including Monroeville.  That is where the National Novel Writing Month east write-ins have been held.  We would gather in the cafe, people watch, be amazed at the random electrical outlet up at the ceiling (we called it the spiderman plug) and work on crafting great novels.

Now however, we’re going to need someplace new, so I’d like to ask for some suggestions.  Barring in mind that I’m not actually in charge, I’m just trying to help out our Municipal Liason (who is awesome by the way, I’ll be writing about her awesome blog probably next week).  Here’s what we need in a location:

  • Ability to seat about 10 people (we usually get about that many on the weekend write-ins, and about half that during the week).  We’re not the biggest write-in location, but we’re dependable six or seven write-ins a month
  • Two electrical sockets.  We bring our own surge protectors/power strips.  We’ve learned that lesson from experience.
  • Wi-Fi.  You know, for research… And I wrote my book in Google Docs last year, so it was nice to just write in the cloud.
  • Caffeine.  Totally optional, but we’ll buy food and drink from the location we’re in, and probably whatever else is for sale (I usually left Borders with new books to read)
  • A fondness for strangeness.  We wear funny hats when we write, it helps with the creative process, and allows us to find each other easier.  So when you see me come in wearing a Viking helmet, Mad Hatter hat, or something else equally odd, you’ll know we’re there.

Barnes and Noble is an option, although they have a smaller seating area, and the last few times I was there, their Wi-Fi was pitiful.  We’ve used the Panera in Penn Center in Wilkins, and that was a good spot (plus, unlike the Panera in Monroeville, the staff is friendly and gets my orders correct).

But I guess I’m kind of interested to see if there is some place off the beaten path, I know we had tried to set up some write-ins in Oakmont last year, but I don’t think that ever got off the ground.  We’re generally fairly quiet, bring in business (as well as publishing the fact that we’re at your location a lot), and I can even get you a cool “Write Your Novel Here” window cling to hang up.

So, any ideas?

Urbanophile, Waffle Shop and NaNoWriMo

Couple items for everyone today.  Urbanophile profiled Pittsburgh.  We’ve heard it all before (the Steel bust, our revival, rest of the country claims we don’t matter that much, check the comments for that one), so it’s becoming a bit cliche.  I was alerted to it from The Daily Dish (a British blog that mostly talks about American politics), so it’s getting some traction.  Anyway, take a look, and make sure to check out the comments.

Waffle Shop is looking for a manager.  If you have experience in restaurant management and want to work in one of the most unique restaurants in the country, check it out.

And finally today, writing has been a bit slow on the site due to my annual, crazy dive into National Novel Writing Month.  Pittsburgh has an awesome group writing this year, and you’re more than welcome to join in.  If you’re not up for writing the book that’s been bouncing around you head this year, you can still help out. 

We’re collecting books (new or used) in support of creative writing programs that The Office of Letters and Light (NaNoWriMo’s parent organization) offers free in schools around the world.  You can drop off books at any of the events listed on our forum (or just see what we’re talking about), and learn more about the book drive here.

Leave a comment if you need help finding a time/place to donate books, I’ll make sure you get hooked up with someone in your area.

I think I have some awesome posts in the works, and maybe even a give-away, so stay tuned!

Writing at Panera

Once again, I’ll be spending November writing a 50,000 word novel.  As of this writing, there are currently over 1,000 (1,080) participants from Pittsburgh.  Right now, five of us are busily writing at Panera Bread in Wilkins, and write-ins are happening all the time, all over the city.

Join in if you want, or watch as we attempt to beat both Sacramento and Philadelphia in a word-war that will be going on all month.

In the meantime, I’ll be back later tonight and all this week with Waffle Shop Week.  The good folks from CMU went a bit crazy with the uploads, and there’s all kinds of syrup-ey goodness to share.  And I’ll be back on Tuesday with another installment of PATransit Tuesday.  I’ll be chronicling some Christmas Creep, and later in the month, geeking out to Star Wars in Concert.

Enjoy the beautiful day everybody, catch you later!

Book Review: Zombies Ate My Headlines

With a forward by Randy Baumann (DVE) and an introduction by Rick Seback(Things that Aren’t There Anymore, The Strip Show), Zombies ate my Headlines is the first book published by the brilliant minds at Carbolic Smoke Ball.

So much praise has already been heaped onto this book, I really can’t add much more.  The book is a great read, I was laughing with just about every page.  The pace, was very well done as well, a good mix of longer stories, shorter snippets and even a few photo and caption articles as well.

The only bad thing I can say about the book isn’t about the content, but the physical book itself.  However it was printed, the type goes very close to the spine, making it difficult to read some articles.  A small gripe, but otherwise, a fantastic read that should not be missed.

The great thing is that even though it is Pittsburgh-centric, anyone, from any city, can pick the book up and get a good laugh.

More information about the book here, and it can be picked up at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, John Beth Booksellers, Bradley’s, or from the CSB website (purchased copies from CSB will be signed by one of the authors).

Nothing left to write

NaNoWriMo 2008No, I’m not leaving metblogs, just writing about a fun event that comes around every year.  November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  This crazy event challenges amateur (and professional) writers around the world to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  The goal is quantity over quality: understanding you’re going to write crap, but for once, actually sitting down, undertaking a massive creative feat, and turning off your inner editor for a month of twists and turns through the story coming from your mind.

In total, the authors writing in Pittsburgh wrote over seven million words (7, 391,876 to be exact), placing it in 33rd out of over 400 regions.  That is a crazy number.  50,000 words is around 80 pages (single spaced in Word), I can’t even imagine seven million.

So now, after all the write-ins taking place Downtown and in Cranberry, Oakland and Monroeville, a kick-off party at the Waterfront and a Thank God It’s Over party at  Spaghetti Warehouse, the writers (including myself) find themselves with no pressing deadline, no excuse to consume mass amounts of caffeine and alienate themselves from friends and family (well, except the usual excuses).  And it is a strange feeling.  But it is nice to relax, and remember that there are other things to do besides write each day.  And in the meantime, until next November, I can breathe a little easier, as I wait for midnight on November 1 when I can start the mad dash towards 50,000 once again.

Want to read more about NaNoWriMo, or their sister project, Script Frenzy, check it out at the links.  And come November, join us!  It’s fun, free, and a great way to meet some really awesome people from around Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh comic artist makes good


Yesterday DC Comics launched a new line of manga-ish comics for teenage girls. It’s called Minx, and the very first of the books is drawn by Pittsburgh’s own Jim Rugg.

Comic fans know Jim for his Street Angel series. Now word of his fine work is spreading, thanks to the new comic, The PLAIN Janes. It’s a story about four girls who find themselves at the reject table at school — and all happen to be named Jane. I won’t tell you what happens next, but it’s good (the story is written by young adult author Cecil Castellucci).

This Saturday and next, from 3-5pm, Jim Rugg will be signing copies of The PLAIN Janes at New Dimension Comics (isn’t the special drawing he did for them cool? It’s one of the Janes). He’ll even do a sketch for you, they say.

Saturday May 19th: New Dimension Comics in Cranberry, Piazza Plaza, Cranberry Twp

Saturday May 26th: New Dimension Comics in Century III Mall, in West Mifflin

First Fridays are for Waiting

Being that tomorrow is the first Friday of the month, literary-types all around town are surely gearing up for the latest installment of the Gist Street Reading Series. For Gist Street newbies, the premise is this – every month, sculptor James Simon gives up his house to the public so that they can enjoy a reading in an atmosphere that feels like, well, home. Wine and munchies brought by attendees are spread into a lovely buffet and many handmade goodies and books are given out during the monthly raffle. All in all, it’s a really enjoyable evening – if you make it in the door. As one of my fellow bloggers already stated, the waiting line at Gist can be a bit daunting. Tomorrow night Michael Byers and David Young will be reading. Since Michael Byers used to teach here at Pitt, I imagine this one will be quite crowded.

I can’t make it tomorrow night but for those brave souls who can I have this advice – go early. REALLY EARLY. I might even suggest setting up camp tonight. Or, if you’re a true Pittsburgher, pack up the cooler, fire up the grill and start yourself a tailgate!

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