My friendship with Bob Downes goes back 25 years or so, when I first started writing for Northern Express, the alternative weekly founded by him and George Foster. I have fond memories of sitting in Bob’s office – when they were located on Eighth Street – hammering out story ideas and getting assignments for the week ahead.
I loved writing for the Express because it really grounded me to the local community, but also gave me the chance to write about weird things like “shadow people,” government conspiracies and alien abductions. (I interviewed Budd Hopkins, author of “Intruders” and “Missing Time,” when he was in Traverse City. What a thrill!)
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Bob retired from his job as editor of the Express, but that in no way means he’s taking it easy. He’s busy traveling the world, writing books and organizing the National Writers Series inaugural
Traverse City Authors Expo, which is happening this Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015.
In an age where books that you can actually hold and read (and not from a screen, though I’m cool with that, too) are becoming extinct, I’m excited that so many local authors are gathering to share their experiences about writing, marketing, funding, publishing and lots more.
The Traverse City Authors Expo is free of charge and will take place at the Inside Out Gallery, 229 Garland Street in the Warehouse District in Traverse City, on Saturday, Dec. 19, from noon to 5:30 p.m. Books of all participating authors will be available for sale. Great timing if you need a fantastic holiday gift for someone.
The 22 authors, poets and illustrators participating – including Old Mission author Jerry Dennis (and my neighbor down around the corner – hey, Jerry!) – include:
- 12 Noon – Joan Schmeichel, author of Devil’s Rock, speaking on “I Played With Paper Dolls.”
- 12:15 p.m. – Michael Dow, author of the forthcoming Dark Matters, speaking on “The Future of Income Inequality.”
- 12:30 p.m. – Bill Smith:, author of Chickadees at Night, speaking on “Creating a Picture Book.”
- 12:45 p.m. – Bill Montgomery, author of Prayer for Time, reading from his memoir on surviving cancer.
- 1 p.m. – Aaron Stander, author of Murder in the Merlot, speaking on “Where Do Stories Come From?”
- 1:15 p.m. – Anne Marie Oomen, author of Love, Sex and 4-H, speaking on “Poems from the Back Forty.”
- 1:30 p.m. – Heather Shaw, author of Kitty Lullaby, speaking on Digital Book Illustration.
- 1:45 p.m. – Stewert James, author of Writing with Hemingway at City Park Grill, will speak on Hemingway.
- 2 p.m. – Mardi Link, author of The Drummond Girls and Bootstrapper, speaking on, “Funding the Writer’s Life.” (Check out my story on her Q&A with Ron Jolly.)
- 2:15 p.m. – Bob Downes, author of Travels With My Wife, speaking on “So You Want to Be a Travel Writer.”
- 2:30 p.m. – Karen Trolenberg, author of Flight of Megizzewas, speaking on “A Brief Overview of Self-Publishing.”
- 2:45 p.m. – Teresa J. Scollon, author of To Embroider the Ground With Prayer, speaking on “Storytelling and Poetry.”
- 3 p.m. – Richard Hall, author of Remarkable and the Big Bay book series, speaking on “Imagination.”
- 3:15 p.m. – Cari Noga, author of Sparrow Migrations, speaking on “Why You Should Give Your Books Away.”
- 3:30 p.m. – Glenn Wolff, illustrator of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom and many other books, topic to be announced.
- 3:45 p.m. – Fleda Brown, author of No Need of Sympathy, speaking on “Poems and a Conversation on Poetry.”
- 4 p.m. – Jason Link, author of The Legender, speaking on “How to Build a Fantasy World.”
- 4:15 p.m. – Elizabeth Buzzelli, author of the Emily Kincaid mysteries, speaking on “The Passionate Predator: Secrets of a Cowardly Killer” or “Murder for Fun and Profit.”
- 4:30 p.m. – Kelly Nichols/P.J. Parrish, author of the Louis Kincaid mystery series, with topic to be announced.
- 4:45 p.m. – Jerry Dennis, author of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom and Canoeing Michigan Rivers, speaking on “Letter to a Young Writer.”
- 5 p.m. – Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm’s Way, speaking on “Truth that Reads like a Novel.”
- 5:15 p.m. – Anne Stanton, editor of StormStruck, speaking on “Freelance Editing.”
Additionally, Mission Point Press representatives will be at the event. Publisher of Storm Struck, Mission Point Press provides design, editing and marketing services to writers seeking to publish.
Formed in 2009 by my old high school pal Doug Stanton, the National Writers Series has hosted 75-plus authors from around the country in the gorgeous City Opera House in Downtown Traverse City. Each event is recorded for Interlochen Public Radio and broadcast to more than 100,000 listeners. It’s also shown on UpNorth Media, a cable access channel. NWS is considered by publishers and authors in New York and around the country to be a top tour visit. Poets & and Writers magazine calls NWS one of America’s premier literary events.
The Writers Series is also committed to nurturing the love of reading and writing. Guest authors often visit area classrooms to talk about their books, their professional life, and the finer points of writing. NWS also funds Front Street Writers, a free, for-credit high school writing course in collaboration with Traverse City Area Public Schools. This class offers aspiring young writers an opportunity to hone their craft working under the guidance of a writer-in-residence and a TCAPS language arts teacher. The Writers Series also gives out three college scholarships each year to winners of a writing competition.