Category Archives: Social Media

In Appreciation: Chez Pazienza (1969-2017)

At a moment when this world needs every voice of reason, every champion of quality journalism and every don’t-give-a-fuck resister of the current political regime we can muster up, we have lost Chez Pazienza, someone who was all of these things and then some.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Chez was a brilliant writer and author of Dead Star Twilight, an award-winning journalist and media producer, blogger, podcaster and much more. But first and foremost, he was a father, fiancé, son, and loved one of many others who are grieving his untimely passing. My deepest condolences go out to his family.

Through his writing and podcasting, those of us who enjoyed and appreciated his work felt like we knew him. That’s because of what Chez shared with us, of course–a hell of a lot, as it turned out, from the personal to the mundane–and we also knew how much Chez loved those who were most important to him.

Mourning someone you’ve never met is an odd thing. It feels voyeuristic, like you’re trespassing on someone’s private life. You don’t feel entitled to your sadness or in any standing to offer up a eulogy–yet through their presence on this earth, this person was still part of your life and had an impact on it. Which is why this post is intended solely to be an appreciation of and respect for Chez’s work and how it added to my life. Nothing more, nothing less.

I first discovered Chez’s work approximately a decade ago, more or less, through his blog Deus Ex Malcontent. If his wasn’t the first blog I’d ever read, it was one of them. His was the kind of writing I aspired to–fearless, insightful, no-holds-barred, sharp witted as hell. Chez’s talent was to make you, his reader, feel every emotion possible in a handful of words.

And that’s exactly what he did, time and time and time again, regardless if he was writing about politics or his personal struggles, music or the media. Within one sentence, you could laugh and then be angry, with plenty of cursing in between. That was the case with his pieces for The Daily Banter, of which he served as editor-at-large, as well as his podcasts with Bob Cesca on The Bob & Chez Show. His perspective was on-point, always, and precisely what we need right now.

Free of bullshit and full of anger, Chez did not mince words about the implications of the sinister machinations and horrific incompetence in The White House. His newsroom experience provided him with a perspective of the media — good and bad — that one can only get from having been in the the industry’s trenches. And in a year that claimed countless icons who defined our coming-of-age years, Chez always had a relevant unique angle that resonated with those of us Gen X’ers who have the same cultural markers and touchstones.

His listeners and readers knew this election affected him profoundly and deeply. Maybe we didn’t quite realize how much. In the immediate aftermath of the election, I reached out to Chez via Facebook to tell him how much I appreciated and agreed with his commentary. I never expected him to respond, but he did and I am grateful that we had that brief exchange to commiserate and for me to express how much I thought of his work.

None of us need any more reminders or Hallmark card platitudes of how life is too fucking short or how important it is to tell people we care about how much we appreciate them. We get it. If not, Chez’s death makes that abundantly clear.

What is also tragically clear is that without Chez Pazienza’s voice, we need to make ours count even more. To resist, to point out bullshit, to call foul, to take those perpetuating the many injustices that have become calling cards of this regime to task by speaking out. Chez knew how imperative that was and I feel there’s no better way to remember him and honor his work and life.

I’d like to think he would expect no less.

My most sincere condolences to Chez’s fianceé, his daughters, his family and friends. If you are inclined to contribute, a fund has been established to help with expenses towards a memorial service and anything remaining will go to his fianceé and children.


If you weren’t familiar with Chez’s work, here are some links…

The Daily Banter: http://thedailybanter.com/author/chez-pazienza/

Deus Ex Malcontent: http://www.deusexmalcontent.com
(among Chez’s very best posts were “The Grand Finale,” written in June 2013 one week after James Gandolfini’s death and “15 Years On: 9/11 in Two Parts”, written in September 2016.)

Dead Star Twilight 


…and here are some Internet tributes. (But read the Chez links first. Seriously.)

Goodbye (tribute to Chez by Bob Cesca of The Bob & Chez Show podcast, 2/28/2017)

My Friend Chez Isn’t Gone … He’s F*cking Everywhere (Bob Cesca, The Daily Banter)

The Internet Has Lost One of Its Most Distinctive Voices  (from Pajiba)

Journalism Lost a Giant on Saturday: A Tribute to Chez Pazienza (from The State Today)

RIP Chez Pazienza (from The Tentacles of Yesterday)

 

 

Sunday Salon/Currently … October 16, 2016

Sunday Salon banner

Like many people, the political events of this past week have left me emotionally drained. It was a difficult week, a painful one, with so many of us feeling shaky and in solidarity with the women who so publicly and bravely shared their stories of sexual assaults that happened decades ago. It’s horrifying and astounding that nearly every woman among my Facebook friends has experienced this trauma. So many of us are feeling this so very personally and if you also have been reliving difficult memories this week, I hope you know this:  I see your pain, I hear your cries and your stories, and I am right there with you.

(And if you haven’t watched Michelle Obama’s powerful and emotional speech on this issue in its entirety, you need to do so. Right now.)

On Friday, I decided to initiate a little weekend social media break from reading any election-related posts or articles. It’s a tough balance for someone like me who is very much of a news and political junkie and who is definitely afflicted with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  But it felt necessary.

I think it was somewhat successful. Here’s what I did:

slow-cooker-lasagna-soup1) Made a fantastic recipe (Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup) that everyone in our family liked, which is unheard of. It’s from Skinnytaste: Fast and Slow, the new cookbook from Gina Homolka (Skinnytaste). I made some modifications to this recipe, using some leftover vegetarian meatballs instead of chicken sausage. I also didn’t have any gluten free lasagna noodles, so I made it with regular noodles and just didn’t eat those.   This is going in our regular rotation.

2) Planned some dinners for this week and next, and went grocery shopping (as per usual).

3) Went shopping with The Girl at Plato’s Closet and Target. She needed some long-sleeve shirts and I wanted to get myself some proper running clothes. I found a pair of capris, a top for when the weather gets cooler, and a sports bra.

4) Wrote a freelance book review and submitted it at the eleventh hour.

american-girls5) Read. I’ve been reading American Girls: The Secret Lives of Teenagers this week. Our school district is hosting Nancy Jo Sales tomorrow night for a presentation and discussion, and I’m planning to attend. I think this is an important subject for parents, and although I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the realities of teens’ lives on social media and how to monitor it (which we do), this book is definitely eye-opening and educational. I’m not going to finish it before tomorrow night, though.

6) Ran.  I finished Week 4 of Couch to 5k, but I think I’m going to repeat this week. I’ve only been able to get through the first full run and most of the second.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Why I Decided to Delete My Cell Phone Photos (9/99)

STP688364,050.

That’s how many photos were on my phone.

Until I deleted them a few minutes ago.

On purpose.

Last week I got a new phone.  (“They don’t even make this model anymore!” the barely-old-enough-to-shave-looking Verizon Solutions Specialist said about my four year old antique.)

I was not interested. Wasn’t even thinking about one until The Girl’s phone cracked and, since she’s 14, a replacement needed to be procured in post and in haste.

So, off to the Verizon store we went, only to discover that her phone was kaput.

After dealing with the insurance particulars, I handed over mine.

“The headphone jack stopped working last week,” I explained. “Is there anything we can do about that?”

There was. It’s called an upgrade. No thanks, I quickly said.  I’ll live. But what’s that you say?  It’s technically a replacement too, with no charge, no change in plan? You sure about that? Come to think of it, the phone has been running slow and the charging jack thingie needs to be held a certain way and …oh, sure, what the hell.

Lo and behold, two replacement phones arrived in the mail within days and we returned to the Verizon store for Activation.

Like we were superheroes or something.

Yeah, not so much. Nearly three hours later, we were still there, waiting, waiting, and waiting some more for my information to migrate over to the new phone. We’d gotten all the contacts but the hang up was —

You guessed it.

My 4,050 photos.

Fortunately, I had downloaded a bunch several days prior and those that were the most memorable have been shared on Facebook anyway.  Still, I couldn’t just delete them.  I needed make sure they had all downloaded, that I really did have them somewhere.

With a relatively unscheduled vacation day today, I thought this would be an opportune time to do this. I sorted, selected, made folders, renamed, downloaded, re-downloaded because something went amiss, waited while the phone decided to take a break, transferred photos to both the computer and the external hard drive — and after all this I still had a year or two worth of photos to process.

(Let’s do the math, shall we? 4,050 photos for four years equals 1,012 photos per year. Divided by 12, and that’s 84 pictures of … what, exactly? Food?  Selfies? The cat? My kids call me the paparazzi.  They tease me about photographing our dinners — usually for a blog post or Facebook status.  Yes, I’m that annoying-as-hell friend.)

Still, processing these seemed do-able.  I shuffled through the photos. Most of the major life events were indeed downloaded and/or already shared to Facebook. I looked at the clock. To my surprise, more than two hours had vanished — pretty much all of the unscheduled time of my vacation day afternoon — not to mention the three hours I spent in the Verizon store waiting for these same damn 4,050 photos to transfer over.

As if on cue — or because I’m technically-challenged me — the phone decided to just stop downloading. Or whatever.  It had had enough.

And so had I.

What was I really saving these mostly inconsequential photos for, anyway? I used to be an avid scrapbooker and part of me still believes the magic powers of all the Project Life and Creative Memories paraphernalia in my basement really will get me caught up on what is now more than a decade of our family’s photos.

But there’s a difference between carefully curating a life and living one.

What had already been downloaded of those 4,050 photos was fine, I decided. Maybe I missed something, but probably not anything worth losing any more hours over.  I’ll be more conscientious of downloading them in the future, I vowed.

Or maybe I can try to live more in the moment while taking a few thousand less.

photo taken by me (and not on my cell phone) at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, May 2009

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis post is #9 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

 

Best of the Burghosphere: And the Award Goes To …

Almost every week, it seems, Pittsburgh is being named to yet another list.  You know the ones I mean: those clickbait morsels that proclaim something to be the Best This or the Most That or the Top 10 Whatever, all compiled by every type of media outlet from Forbes to Nerdwallet. Judging by the accolades bestowed on Pittsburgh in the last two yearsMost Livable City! Top Ballpark in the Country!  Coolest American City You’ve Never Been To! — the best of life can be found at the confluence of three rivers.

Pittsburgh also happens to have the best bloggers and the best blogging community in the country.  It’s true.  I read a lot of blogs and most of their creators don’t talk about their cities with the pride that we have here. They certainly don’t talk about the blogging community in those cities, if indeed one exists at all. They simply don’t have what we do, which is 460 bloggers (the number of members in Pittsburgh Bloggers, a Facebook group) who are dedicated, innovative, caring, and connected.

We capture the heart of Pittsburgh and its 90 neighborhoods, offer insightful perspectives on issues that may be glossed over by traditional and mainstream media, and mobilize others to engage in diverse initiatives that impact change in our city and elsewhere. Above all, we’re a community of many strong, passionate voices that care deeply about Pittsburgh and its people.

Several months ago, my friend Sue had an idea to celebrate all the fantastic blogs and bloggers in Pittsburgh.  The result is the inaugural Best of the Burghosphere, and I’m delighted to be among 20 bloggers who are taking part in this project, which launches today in conjunction with National Blogging Month.

Web Banner Best of

For Best of the Burghosphere,  participating Pittsburgh bloggers were assigned another blogger and asked to become familiar with their site, if we weren’t already a reader. Our task was to think of a fun Best of the Burghosphere award category of our own creation that fit that person’s blog and announce this prestigious honor with a special post on November 1.

Boos2I was assigned to Booferson J. McGrugen (not necessarily his real name) who blogs at Boo’s Insane and Inane Ramblings (formerly known as The Insane and Inane Ramblings of the Man Dubbed Booferson J. McGrugen).  I was only somewhat familiar with his writing before I had the pleasure of exploring his blog, which I would categorize as one where Boo offers his perspective and opinions on movies, television, comics, politics, and issues such as increasing the minimum wage, smokers’ rights, and the current state of journalism. His stream-of-consciousness, matter-of-fact posts are direct, honest, and without a shred of egotistical pretense.

For the Best of the Burghosphere awards, I wanted to create a Pittsburgh-centric category for Boo that would recognize and pay homage to his extensive knowledge of movies. With that, I am pleased to present Booferson J. McGrugen of Boo’s Insane and Insane Ramblings with this distinguished award:

Best of the Burghosphere:
Official Movie Critic Blogger of Everything Filmed in Pittsburgh. Ever.

Boo, I hope this reflects the spirit of your blog and your passion for movies.  I enjoyed getting to know you and your blog through this project. I look forward to meeting you at one of the Best of the Burghosphere events and to reading more of your ramblings!

Special thanks to Sue Kerr for organizing this fun project and to Most Wanted Fine Art for hosting two Best of the Burghosphere parties later this month. Interested in joining us?  Click here for more information.

 

a few things i’m doing

This thing called Life is kickin’ our collective asses around here lately. Maybe I’ll be able to write about it sometime, but for right now, in the midst of the muck, there are a few things I need to keep off the blog.  In between the hits, though, I’m finding myself in need of a few distractions … which, as we know, is the reason why we have The Internet.

Fortunately, all kinds of cool things are happening in the online world this fall.  Here’s what I’m doing to try and forget about Life for awhile.

Autumn-2015-Pin-it-and-Do-it-Challenge

My blogging friend Trish of Love, Laughter and (a touch of) Insanity is bringing back her fun Pin It and Do It Challenge for September and October. For whatever reason, I’ve recently re-discovered Pinterest, and this challenge will be a little kick in the pants for me to do some projects, try some new recipes, make some blog improvements and who knows what else.  Go to Trish’s blog for the official sign up, follow me on Pinterest, and have fun pinning and doing.

Bloggiesta-F15

Speaking of blog improvements and whatnot, look what starts today – besides the first day of the planet Mercury losing its collective shit AGAIN and spinning the hell out of control in retrograde, that is. (Because, you know, I really need THAT nonsense right now.)  Bloggiesta is back, baby, and the Fall 2015 edition is happening now.

I really like this multi-day Bloggiesta format. I’m hoping to use this go-around to take care of a few housekeeping duties here on the blog. Not quite sure what, exactly, as a lot depends on how the week goes. I’m supposed to write an official Bloggiesta to do list as part of my participation post (which I guess this is), so we’ll keep it the same as all the other Bloggiestas I’ve done:

1) catch up on book reviews (and other posts) and
2) update the Book Reviews page here on the blog.

RIP X - 2015

image used with permission, property of Abigail Larson.

It’s September, and that means the return of the book blogging community’s beloved R.I.P. Reading Challenge. Short for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, this annual challenge created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings is being hosted this year – the 10th! – by the wonderful Andi and Heather of The Estella Society. You can find all the R.I.P. details here.  I’m planning to participate in Peril the Second which means I’ll be reading two books of any length that fit within the R.I.P. categories (that includes mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads and the like).

ripnineperilsecond

ripnineperilshort

I’m not sure what books I’ll be reading for this year’s R.I.P. This might be one of those years where I make it up as we go.  Right now, I’m in the midst of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which seems to qualify. It definitely has the suspenseful, creepy factor. And I haven’t ruled out doing Peril the Short Story either because I am all about the short stories, yo.

Finally, thanks to the magic of Coursera and FutureLearn, I’m enrolled in four MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) right now:

Plagues, Witches and War: The World of Historical Fiction through the University of Virginia;
William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place through Lancaster University, in the UK;
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (known as ModPo, for short), with the University of Pennsylvania.
Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (with Monash University and which started on Monday but I haven’t shown up for class yet).

Like everything else, I’ll find my way there, albeit with a few side trips en route.

Podcamp Pittsburgh 8: Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh Session Notes

We had an incredible audience join us for “Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh” during Podcamp Pittsburgh 8.
This photo, taken by me while at the podium, represents only part of the group. (There were two additional rows.)

I made a promise to these folks yesterday.

I promised them that my Podcamp Pittsburgh session notes for “Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh” would be online, on this blog, last night.

(It took me a little longer than I thought, thanks to my boy needing my laptop for a project and my girl needing some time to talk. Priorities, y’know.)

Anyway, I’m so grateful for everyone who came to my Podcamp session, which also included Pittsburgh authors J.J. Hensley and Laurie Kooser. (As opposed to “two of Philadelphia’s most exciting authors, which is how I inadvertently introduced them, much to my chagrin.) Our session was wide-ranging, and I got the sense we could have talked books and blogging for much longer than our allotted 45 minutes.

This post isn’t meant to be an all-encompassing recap of either my session or Podcamp itself – just some of my prepared session notes because I tried to cover a lot.

Here you go:

FIVE QUALITIES OF AN ENGAGING BOOK BLOG

1. Don’t talk books all the time. Let your readers get to know you! 

I spoke about how the book blogging community is both a big and a small one. We’re big in a sense that there are a lot of us and many of us are in very specialized niches. But we’re also a tight community, particularly those of us who have been doing this for several years (in my case, five years). We know each other pretty well and that’s because most of us write about more than just books on our blogs. Because most of us, in our lives, do more than one thing, right? Same with us.

 2. Don’t make your reviews a personal attack on the author.

This is where high school English comes in handy. It’s fine to be critical, to say that you didn’t connect with the characters or that the writing wasn’t strong enough. It’s quite different to engage in name-calling and threats. This is actually becoming a big deal lately where some bloggers are refusing to write negative reviews for fear of repercussions from the author. There have been incidents of people being targeted because of their opinions about a BOOK. There’s a nice way to say you didn’t like a book.

 3.   Be careful about having too many memes.

The book blogging community LOVES memes and features and events. And we have a lot of them, several for almost every day of the week. Remember that you may have readers who may not be as big of bookworms as you are, so they might not want to see this kind of content every day.

That said, there are fun virtual events in the book blogging community, like Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon where we read for 24 hours and blog about our progress. (It happens every fall and spring. The fall incarnation is NEXT WEEKEND.) It’s incredibly nerdy fun at its finest. And it’s not too late to sign up. Reading for 24 hours … or, as long as possible. You know you wanna.

4.   If you’re stuck for content ideas, connect your posts to something in the news or that’s the talk of the town.

I talked about how, in celebration of the Giant Rubber Duck’s arrival in Pittsburgh, I wrote a post about two of my favorite children’s books, GERTIE THE DUCK and LITTLE QUACK.  

5. Make your reviews personal.

This isn’t your 5th grade book report. What about the book resonated with you? Was there a personal connection with this book? Is it set in your hometown or a place you know well? Is there something compelling about a character that you identified with? Tell your readers that. Those are the things that make your review stand out and resonate with your readers.

10 TIPS ON PITCHING YOUR BOOK TO A BOOK BLOGGER:

1.   Do your research. Which blogs review books similar to yours?

I guarantee that no matter what topic your book is about, someone is writing a blog about it. And the same goes for the genre of the book. When I started book blogging 5 years ago, it was more general. Now, we’re a very niched community. There are bloggers who only review teen paranormal romances. Or steampunk. Or children’s books. Or Christian fiction.

2. There are also now actual CONFERENCES for specific types of book bloggers, such as KidLitCon, the KidLitosphere Conference. So, if you write in a specific genre, you want to see what blogs and what events are talking about books like yours.

Of course, there is the giant of all book shows – Book Expo America, which is the biggest book trade show and which has, since 2009, had a Book Blogger Convention (now called BEA Bloggers Conference) as part of it, albeit one that has gone through various changes and inceptions.

3.   There’s marketing power in these conferences and in the book blogging community.  What this means for you if you’re an author or have a product, you can offer your book or a free download of your book as a giveaway.

4. Most bloggers have a book review policy on their blog that spells out what kinds of books they review, if they’re currently accepting books for review, what their turnaround time is, what happens if they don’t like your book. READ THEIR POLICY.

5. Pitch us over email. Use our first names – not the names of our blog. When my blog was The Betty and Boo Chronicles, I can’t tell you how many times I got “Dear Betty and Boo” or “Dear Mrs. Chronicles.” Do not use DEAR BLOGGERMost of our names are on our blogs or in the profles.

6.  In your pitch, don’t overdo it with the flattery. We all know we write the most fantastic, most amazing blog you’ve ever read in your life. And we all know you’re full of shit and are saying that to everyone you’re emailing about reviewing your book.

7Make sure to give the blogger plenty of time. Bloggers are busy. We’re not doing this for pay. We get hundreds of requests. One blogger I know gets 50 book review requests a week. We have jobs, kids, responsibilities – we’re not just sitting around eating bon-bons and reading. Don’t expect your book to be read in two weeks.  It is not unusual for bloggers to be booked well into 2014 right now. Lead times of six-12 months to review a book are not uncommon.

8.   By all means, make sure to offer the blogger a free copy of your book or a free download. DO NOT TELL THEM TO GO BUY YOUR BOOK. As much as we want to support writers, we also need to support our families and book blogging is a hobby for us.

9.   A blogger isn’t your employee. If he or she hasn’t answered your email, that’s a no. Don’t be a puppy.  Similarly, if a blogger declines to review your book, don’t hound them by asking if they might change their mind. When someone says, “I’m sorry, this isn’t right for my blog,” respect that. That’s their way of saying “no” in a gracious way.

(J.J. interjected here to say that real authors should be used to this kind of rejection from dealing with agents and publishers and the like.)

10. Finally, the most important tip for pitching a blogger: READ THE BLOG before asking a blogger to review your book. Not every post from the beginning of time. The most relevant ones. Do a search. Has the blogger reviewed books similar to yours?  Written on topics that your book is about? See what he or she thought about those. If your book is similar to The Help, you’ll want to target bloggers who review books like that – and liked them.

Don’t limit yourself just to a blogger’s reading choices. This is where the broader picture of a blog comes in handy. With J.J.’s novel being set during the Pittsburgh Marathon, one of the audiences he focused on were running bloggers and the running/fitness community. That’s a whole new market of readers for his book.

Another example: my son has Aspergers, and I’ve written about our family’s journey with this frequently on my blog. I’ve also reviewed several autism memoirs and nonfiction books. If you’ve written an autism memoir, I’m more likely to take a look at your pitch.

Likewise, I’m from Philadelphia. If you pitch me a novel set in Philly, chances are I’m going to be interested. I’m also going to be reading that novel extremely critically. You also have to know that your novel needs to be impeccable with the details in these areas. I wrote a review for the Post-Gazette that didn’t get printed about a book set in Philadelphia where they called hoagies “subs,” which is sacrilegious. There was also a hospital in a location where there wasn’t a hospital. So, be careful.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PITTSBURGH BOOK BLOGGERS

(AND SOME PITTSBURGH BLOGS THAT ARE ABOUT BOOKS)

I don’t make any claims that this is a comprehensive list, but rather just a few of the local Pittsburgh book blogs and book bloggers that I enjoy reading. Keep in mind, not all of these bloggers may do book reviews but by reading them you can absolutely get a sense for writing your reviews. 

Perhaps the biggest and well known is Tiffany Harkleroad, who wasn’t able to be at Podcamp this weekend. Her blog is  Tiffany’s Bookshelf and can be found at tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.comShe is an absolute reading machine.

Our guest author, Laurie Koozer, writes a blog called Yinz R Readin, which is at www.yinzrreadin.com.

Laurie just introduced me to a great blog called The Pittsburgh Novel. It’s an annotated bibliography of fiction and drama whose settings are in Pittsburgh or the 26 counties of Western Pennsylvania, including hard-to-find and long-lost titles. This is some seriously fun reading at http://www.thepittsburghnovel.blogspot.com/

Karen the Small Press Librarian is the most dedicated individual person I know regarding the small presses. Her blog is also fairly new to me and can be found at Karenslibraryblog.blogspot.com

Eleventh Stack, which is a blog coordinated by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is fantastic and can be accessed at www.eleventhstack.wordpress.com

Remember, not all of them do reviews, however.

Resolve

Finally, I encourage you to check out our two authors and their books. J.J. Hensley‘s novel is Resolve, a novel set in the midst of the Pittsburgh Marathon where 18,000 people from all over the world will participate – and one man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows who is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill them.

As a professor of Criminology at Three Rivers University, and a former police officer, Dr. Keller is an expert in criminal behavior and victimology. However, when one of his female students is murdered and his graduate assistant attempts to kill him, Keller finds himself frantically swinging back and forth between being a suspect and a victim. When the police assign a motive to the crimes that Keller knows cannot be true, he begins to ask questions that somebody out there does not want answered.

In the course of 26.2 miles, Keller recounts how he found himself encircled by a series of killings that have shocked the city, while literally pursuing his prey – the man who was behind it all. For ordering information, click here.

What Happens On SundayWhat Happens on Sunday is Laurie Koozer‘s novel about what happens on football Sundays in Pittsburgh. Football is much more than just a game – and for six women during the 2005 Steelers season their complicated relationships with the team provides solace, distraction and occasionally frustration. Jen is a very young and very pregnant newlywed who worries that getting married on the same day as a Steelers loss will doom her marriage. Megan never met a tailgate or a man she couldn’t conquer but is scared of losing her best friend to a relationship. Desiree is a brash professional struggling to deal with her husband’s ex-wife and children and beginning to wonder if it’s the right time to start a family of her own. Angela is a high school senior long ago branded bad luck for the Steelers and all she wants to do is get the hell out of Pittsburgh even if it means leaving behind her best friend Robbie. Patty, a mom who sends a pair of sexy panties to a different player every week, hasn’t been on a date since her divorce five years ago. And then there’s Shannon, she spends the majority of her days navigating Pittsburgh traffic and her evenings tending bar and pining after her sister’s boyfriend. As the Steelers make what seems to be an impossible run to the Super Bowl, their lives will intersect, each of them finding connections in the most unexpected places. For ordering information, click here.

If you were with us at “Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh” during Podcamp Pittsburgh, I hope we connected with you. Thanks for sharing part of your Saturday with us! Feel free to email me at thefirmangroup AT gmail DOT com with any additional questions you have.


 

 

 

 

Join Me for “Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh” at Podcamp Pittsburgh

Podcamp Pittsburgh - blue

In retrospect, Podcamp Pittsburgh 7 (held in October 2012) was a pivotal moment for me.

It was my introduction to Pittsburgh’s social media scene – and make no mistake, this town absolutely does have a social media scene.

As a way to meet some of the folks behind the keyboards, I volunteered to help out at Podcamp and got assigned to a session moderated by Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ Blog Since 2005. Sue has since become a good friend. Also on the panel was Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who has since given me a slot on his team of freelance book reviewers in the PG’s Books section.

When the call for Podcamp Pittsburgh speakers went out this year, I submitted a proposal for a session I created titled Books, Blogs, and the ‘Burgh – and voila! That’s what we’ll be talking about this Saturday, October 5 at Point Park University.

Here’s the description:

With Pittsburgh being the 4th most literate city in the U.S., we’re pretty passionate about the written word. Perhaps you’d like to start reviewing books on your blog but need help starting out. Perhaps you have written a book and you want to make connections with Pittsburgh’s bloggers or simply talk about your writing in a way that doesn’t sound pushy or sales-like.

We’ll talk about the qualities of an engaging book blog; how to connect with authors; best strategies for getting bloggers to review your book; and how to let your creativity shine when reviewing books you love and hate.

Joining me will be two of Pittsburgh’s authors to talk about their experiences:  J.J. Hensley, author of the critically-acclaimed novel RESOLVE, a murder-mystery set in the midst of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Laurie Koozer, author of WHAT HAPPENS ON SUNDAY, a novel about six women and their connections with the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers’ seemingly impossible Super Bowl quest –  and each other.

Sound like a good time? Join us! Podcamp Pittsburgh is FREE and offers something for everyone, regardless of your level of expertise. More details are here. Let’s get together to talk books, blogs, and the ‘Burgh!