Women Read | Women Write: A Pittsburgh Book Event

So, so, so excited to share this event and its founders/curators with you today!

This coming weekend—on Saturday, October 27—I will have the honor of joining a spectacular lineup of women authors at the Women Read/Women Write event being held at the Galleria Mall in the South Hills of Pittsburgh (my hometown…whoop! whoop!).

If you’re not yet familiar with Women Read/Women Write, it’s a very cool forum designed to bring readers and writers together. And it’s the brain child of two very talented and funny Pittsburgh writers, Gwyn Cready and Meredith Mileti (whom, you may remember, was featured on Writerhead Wednesday in August 2011 when her novel Aftertaste was first published).

Gwyn and Meredith (and I and all the other marvelous writers who will be talking at this weekend’s Women Read/Women Write event) would love for all of you book-passionate people in Pittsburgh to head to the Galleria on Saturday.

Want more?

Thought you might.

Here’s a Q&A with Gwyn and Meredith that will tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful forum.

Q: What is WRWW (Women Read/Women Write)?

Gwyn: Women Read/Women Write is a forum to bring readers and writers together to celebrate the books women love, but it is essentially our attempt to capture the magic of book clubs and blow it up into a book festival.

Q: Why (& when) did you create WRWW? What was missing from the reading/book culture in Pittsburgh? What niche do you hope to fill?

Meredith: We came up with the idea in early 2011. My debut, Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses, was on the verge of coming out. Gwyn and I live in the same community, and we met through a mutual friend. I was looking for the support of other writers, and so was she. We started talking about the sense of community and shared passion one seems to always find in book clubs. Gwyn is a Rita award-winning romance novelist, so we both do a lot of book club visits. Even when women gather for events that aren’t book-related, how long does it take for the topic to turn to books? Not very long. There’s just some special effervescence that happens when you mix books and women.

Gwyn: So we said, hey, we should turn that into a book fest. How hard could that be?

[mutual laughter]

Gwyn: It was a considerably harder than we expected, but everyone we talked to as we were planning thought it was such a great idea. And then the turn-out at the first Women Read/Women Write astounded us. We had chairs set up for 30 people and over 150 showed up. It really made us see we’d hit upon something that hadn’t happened before, at least in Western Pennsylvania.

Q: How has the community responded to WRWW? Where have you found support and energy?

Gwyn: Women love the idea. So do the authors. It really feels like one big grown-up slumber party or something. And the media outlets here in Pittsburgh have really given us some great coverage. We are very, very appreciative.

Q: What plans do you have for the future? (big, global, pie-in-the-sky vision AND smaller events/schedule/etc.)

Meredith: We’d certainly like to continue to grow this festival into an even bigger gathering.

Gwyn: I’m thinking Super Bowl-esque.

Meredith: Whoa, that’s a lot of folding chairs.

Gwyn: We would like to begin to offer workshops during the festival next year. At last year’s event one of our most popular panels was the writing/publishing panel. There was so much energy and enthusiasm from the audience. People asked great questions. We definitely got the sense that there are other writers out there who are looking for support.

Meredith: For that reason, we’d love to do a writers retreat at another time during the year.

Gwyn: We just want women to feel like they have a place to get really get passionate about books and writing.

Meredith: And it would be like a slumber party.

Q: Please describe the upcoming October 27 event at the Galleria in the South Hills.

Meredith: It runs from 1 pm to 5 pm on the lower level of the Galleria. We’re offering a panel discussion every hour on the half hour with some of the best writers from Pittsburgh and beyond—Edgar nominees Kathleen George and Katherine Miller Haines. New York Times bestselling authors Madeline Hunter and Gaelen Foley. Sonia Taitz and Teri Coyne are coming in from New York, and Kristin, you’re coming in from Boston. We have Casey Daniels from Cleveland, and a whole bunch of others. The complete list is at womenreadwomenwrite.com.

Gwyn: The panel topics this year are great. In “Mining Your Life”—that’s the first panel, at 1:30—we’ll talk to authors about the risks and rewards of using tough personal experiences in your writing. In “Getting Published and Staying Published” at 2:30 we’ll talk about the shifting sands of the publishing world. So much new is happening. Then at 3:30 there’s “50 Shades of Blush” on the reverberations of the 50 Shades books. And we finish with a discussion of the modern heroine in “Lisbeth vs Hermoine” at 4:30.

Meredith: And the whole thing is free! If you’re anywhere near Pittsburgh on October 27, please consider joining us.

Gwyn: Keep that magic rockin’!

 

Thanks, Gwyn and Meredith! See you Saturday!

 

BIO: Gwyn Cready, a Pittsburgh native, is the author of six romance novels. Her latest, Timeless Desire, was released in July to high praise. Cready’s second book, Seducing Mr. Darcy, was awarded the RITA Award, the most prestigious award a romance novel can win. She has been featured in USA Today, Entertainment Weekly and Real Simple, among others. Visit her at cready.com.

BIO: Meredith Mileti is a long time Pittsburgh resident. Since its release last year, Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses has garnered glowing reviews. The New York Journal of Books called Aftertaste “a keenly observed novel that is…enough to make you want to hop on the next plane to Pittsburgh… Mileti’s debut novel is as thoughtful and poignant as it is wickedly funny…” Visit her at meredithmileti.com.

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Meredith Mileti

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


How excited am I to welcome my amazing friend and writing colleague Meredith Mileti to WRITERHEAD to celebrate the publication of her debut novel Aftertaste?

Almost as excited as I’d be if I could actually host Mira Rinaldi–the main character in Aftertaste–herself. Mira is one of those characters who will stay with you forever. She kicks ass in all the best ways (literally and figuratively)…and I love that.

For the past week or so, Aftertaste has kept me up at night turning the page, urging me onward. I was so bummed when I had no more pages to turn…but also satisfied and content.

(And for all you Pittsburghers out there, you’re in for a hometown treat. Part of the book takes place in the ‘burgh and many favorites make guest appearances–Mineo’s, Pittsburghese, the Strip District, Mellon Bank, the Post-Gazette, and loads more. It’s like coming home.)

Remember, I’m giving away 3 signed copies of Aftertaste today. Just leave a comment here to enter. (Complete guidelines below).

The Scoop About Aftertaste

Mira Rinaldi lives life at a rolling boil. Co-owner of Grappa, a chic New York City trattoria, she has an enviable apartment, a brand-new baby, and a frenzied schedule befitting her success. All of that changes the night she catches her husband, Jake, wielding his whisk with Grappa’s sexy waitress. Mira’s fiery response earns her a court-ordered stint in anger management and a demotion to lunchtime cook at her own restaurant, but that is only the beginning of Mira’s legal and personal predicament as she battles to save her restaurant and pick up the pieces of her life.

Mira falls back on family and friends in Pittsburgh as she struggles to find the right recipe for happiness. Slowly, buffered by her best friend, her widowed father’s girl friend and an unanticipated career twist, Mira starts to assemble the ingredients for a new, very different life. But the heat is really on when some surprising developments in New York present Mira with a high stakes opportunity to win back what she thought she had lost forever.

For Mira, cooking isn’t just about delicious flavors and textures, but about the pleasure found in filling others needs. And the time has come to decide where her own fulfillment lies even if the answers are completely unexpected.

The Buzz

“Meredith Mileti’s Aftertaste is as honest, hearty, and deeply satisfying as the Italian peasant fare cooked by her heroine. A delightful debut novel about the important things in life: food, family, and love.” ~ Ann Mah, author of Kitchen Chinese

“I loved this unflinchingly honest portrayal of a woman’s fresh start—in life, in love, and in her very special kitchens.” ~ Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

“Hot. Funny. Sexy. This is one delicious story and Meredith Mileti is one steamy good writer!” ~ Jamie Cat Callan, author of French Women Don’t Sleep Alone and Bonjour, Happiness!

First Sentence

“The best thing about the location of the Manhattan County Courthouse is its proximity to Nelly’s.”

_________

And now, Meredith’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

You can’t plan or induce writerhead, but I can often tell from the moment I open my eyes whether it will be one of those blessed days. (I realize there’s no scientific evidence to support this contention, but I suspect that if you were to take a PET scan the brain you’d be able to actually see writerhead glowing silvery-blue or plum, or some equally incandescent and mysterious color.) Externally I feel a gentle tingling, a slight buzz in the surrounding atmosphere, a bit like I imagine someone might feel just before they spontaneously combust. It’s nerve-wracking, thrilling, heart-stopping and wonderful all at once.

If I sense it might be a writerhead day, I tread softly and take extra precautions to try to minimize the interruptions. I’m an early writer. I love being up in the morning before anyone else is awake in my house. I make a vat of coffee and retreat to my office, making sure my “Disturb Under Pain of Death” doorknob sign is in place. I don’t check my email. I just jump in.

Often I can’t type fast enough. Words and images swirl around my head waiting for me to corral them and assist them onto the page. Writerhead, at it’s best, is like listening in on a party line conversation between two characters who have come to life in a way you hadn’t imagined. I’m just the scribe.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Once, years ago, when my son was small, I was working on a something—I can no longer even remember what it was, (probably for the best)—when Mark toddled into my office. He was in that language acquisition phase where he would repeat one word over and over. He sidled up to my chair and began repeating “button, button” over and over again and, mad to finish the paragraph I was writing, I kept repeating “button, button,” with all kinds of goofy inflections, trying my best to forestall the inevitable interruption. Suddenly, my screen went blank. He had pushed the “off” button on the computer tower and, of course, because I was in my altered-writerhead state, I was not focused on the earthly and mundane task of saving my work. The word “button” still occasionally strikes terror in my heart. We both ended up in tears. Happily, Mark has lived to almost-adulthood and the scars barely show anymore.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

I recently started running. (Actually, I’ve been saying I’m a runner for years now, but that meant I’d made it 4 times around the high school track without feeling like I needed CPR.) You always hear runners talking about “the runner’s high.” Well, I never felt anything but achy, cranky and occasionally on the brink of death until this summer when I finally managed to break the 4-mile barrier and experienced my first runner’s high. (Okay, there’s probably not a marathon in my future, but still it was a big deal for me.) It feels like you could go on for miles, your body tingling, your feet barely skimming the ground; it’s peaceful, heady and exhilarating; all the outside distractions seem to fall away. It’s very much like writerhead. Now, if I could only write while I run…

_________

Meredith Mileti lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their three mostly grown children. Since producing her first batch of gluey brownies from her Easy-Bake oven, Meredith has loved cooking for her family and friends. She is an adventurous and eclectic diner, and appreciates any well-cooked meal, whether from a lobster shack in Bar Harbor, a friggitoria in Naples, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris or an undiscovered little gem in her Pittsburgh neighborhood. Aftertaste is her first novel.

Hungry for more? Visit Meredith at her web site. Give her a high-five on Twitter (@winsomechef). Or raise a glass to her on Facebook.

_________

Q4U: Readers / Writers / Looky-Loos / Cooks / Eaters / Pittsburghers / Primanti Fans: The sign Meredith hangs on her office door when she’s writing reads “Disturb Under Pain of Death.” What does your sign read?

_________

GIVEAWAY!!!

Today—Wednesday, August 31, 2011—I’m giving away 3 signed copies of Meredith Mileti’s debut novel Aftertaste.

RULES: To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment right here on WRITERHEAD for Meredith. Tell her that you pre-ordered Aftertaste and have just cracked the spine. Talk to her about a particular dish you love to cook for your family and friends. Describe your favorite spice. Delight in a shared writerhead moment. (Or for you Pittsburghers out there, you can even dish about your favorite Primanti’s sandwich.)

*Comments must be posted before the clock strikes midnight on September 1, 2011. (That’s Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

**This contest is open internationally.

***Winners will be drawn on Thursday, September 1. Be sure to check back to see who wins.

****Though I welcome all charming comments, only one comment per person will be counted in the contest. (I know, I know…but this isn’t American Idol.)

****The winner will be drawn randomly by the highly scientific method of my 3yo pulling a name out of a hat (or some other convenient container).