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This bonus episode celebrates Author Alley, an annual book fair held at Loganberry Books in Cleveland. Harriett Logan discusses the history of Author Alley and provides a preview of some of this year’s offerings. Next, five participating authors (Nicole D. Miller, James Redwood, Megan Neville, Jason Lady, and Tricia Springstubb) share a bit about their books. You can meet these authors but also many others by coming to Loganberry Books on August 6 for the BIPOC showcase; August 13 for the fiction, poetry, and ephemera showcase; and August 20 for the nonfiction and illustrated works showcase. The event runs from noon to 4pm on each day.
Finally, mark your calendars for our first-ever live podcast event, which will take place at 3:30pm on Saturday, September 10 at Literary Cleveland’s Inkubator conference. “Page Count Live: Advice for the Career-Minded Writer” will feature an interview with award-winning short story author and NEA Fellow Liz Breazeale. Register for the free Inkubator conference and attend this live taping of Page Count.
Laura Maylene Walter (00:00): Welcome to this special bonus episode celebrating Author Alley, an annual book fair held at Loganberry Books for local writers, writers, native to Ohio and writers whose books have an Ohio connection. This year, author showcases will take place on August 6th, 13th, and 20th. So full disclosure, I will be taking part in Author Alley this year on the fiction day on August 13th. I've participated before, and it's always a good time. But today we're going to more generally preview some of the offerings at this year's Author Alley. First, if you're not already familiar with Loganberry Books, it's a fantastic independent bookstore in the Larchmere neighborhood of Cleveland. It's a spacious gorgeous store with a purple color scheme and a history of having resident bookstore cats. I'm joined today by Harriett Logan, the owner of Loganberry, to offer a preview of this year's Author Alley. Harriett, thanks so much for being here. Harriett Logan (00:54): Hello, and thank you. Laura Maylene Walter (00:55): I thought we could start by learning a bit about the history of Author Alley. How long has this event been going on and how has it evolved over the years? Harriett Logan (01:04): It started as a very different event. Some like 15 years ago, I think we did it in winter and it was the wrong time of year for it. So we all had a great time and we discovered that the best part, well, the fringe benefit best part of the gathering were the connections that the authors were making with each other. And that was so fruitful. We decided that this was definitely something we needed to continue, but to change the time of year. So we made it a summer event and traditionally it's been outside in our driveway, which we then dub the "author alley," got a great book mural backdrop. So it looks great. And it expanded over the years, both in terms of genre and especially in terms of participation, at some points we had as many people indoors as we did outdoors. And then of course, 2020 pandemic came around. We took a year off and then we reconvened in 21 back is outdoor only, but we split the event into three. So this year the three events are the BIPOC (Black indigenous people of color) showcase, the fiction showcase, and non-fiction and illustrated works. So they are three consecutive Saturdays in August, each of them clocking about 22 to 25 people per weekend, which brings us to a total of about 65 participants, which is probably more than we can handle in one day. So it has continued to grow. Laura Maylene Walter (02:35): I remember the first time I participated, I had a short story collection out from a small press and I remember it was one day only. There were a ton of authors, a ton of people. It was great. This was of course long before COVID I mostly remember it was, I think in June and in the 90s, it was so hot and your staff was passing out popsicles, which was much appreciated. <Laugh> You're so right about the benefit of authors connecting with other authors. My novel came out during the pandemic, and I think last year's Author Alley was one of my first actual in-person, things that I did. And you know, I'm only thinking of this now it was at Author Alley that I met Kate Norris who's YA novel also came out in 2021, WHEN YOU AND I COLLIDE, and she and I been hosted a book party the next year. So I have a lot to be grateful for to Loganberry. Harriett Logan (03:23): Serendipity. Glad to hear it. Laura Maylene Walter (03:24): So in addition to the event, being a great way for authors to connect, what does it mean to maybe the community at large people who come and visit, they get to meet an author, maybe have someone sign their book. What has been your experience with the visitors who come to the event? Harriett Logan (03:40): There are definitely people who wait for this event and mark it on their calendars. And some people of course come to meet particular authors and to get their book signed. And they've already read the book or they've read other books by that author. And so it's a fan-based kind of event, but the hallmark of the event is meeting new people and discovering new works. I think it's quite rare for a customer to leave buying only books that they know exist or written by authors. They know. So the real treat is discovering new faces, new works, new categories, and that's of course what makes it such fun and such a success. Laura Maylene Walter (04:19): Well, in terms of this year's event, again, three days in August up to 65, authors will be there across those three days. Can you give us a preview, maybe some authors that you're especially excited to see come to Author Alley this year? Harriett Logan (04:33): Certainly let me go in chronological order. First up on August 6th is the BIPOC showcase, which is always our best attended of the three. And this year we have some repeat faces. Well, as some old faces, that's true across the board. LaBena Fleming is coming. Lady Poet, otherwise known as Amanda Harris. Denise Monique has some new work. Anthony Webb and James Wingo are both repeats. Ticana Zhu has novels with Asian characters, and Kamatchi Devi Subramanian, Chante Thomas, who's been one of our bestsellers across the board. The genres for this day are varied. So the BIPOC showcase is not genre-specific. So it's a smorgasbord, which is great fun. Continuing chronologically, on August 13th, Dan Chaon will be here. He's a big hitter local author and his new work came out during the pandemic, so it's nice to be able to host him in person. Cat Russell will be here. Megan Whalen Turner, Mary Turzillo, who writes about true crime in Ohio. Abby Vandiver, who writes cozy mysteries set in Chagrin Falls and other Cleveland locations. We'll have poets from the CSU Poetry Center and we'll have live poetry readings throughout the afternoon. Kevin Risner, another poet. The nonfiction day on August 20th also features some graphic novels and illustrated works. Liz Ferro writes about her work with young female athletes. Rev Hollander writes some inspirational things. Judy Lifton will be here. Gary Webster, local sports Scott Longert is also local sports. I don't know how to whittle down my list. Laura Maylene Walter (06:24): <laugh> Now what about children's books? Are they mostly on the last day? Are they scattered a bit throughout? How does that work? Harriett Logan (06:30): We tried to make a children's only day and, and it didn't pan out. So we've obviously got some on the BIPOC day. Chante Thomas particularly comes to mind there. The fiction day features Megan Wheland Turner, who's a Newberry honor winning author, and Trisha Springstubb is coming on the 20th, so she's grouped with the illustrated folks. So sorry that's not consistent, but at least any day you come, there's something for the kids. Laura Maylene Walter (06:56): I think people should just come all three days. I think that should be the plan. Well, for Ohio authors out there listening, this year it's too late for them to get involved in Author Alley this year, but there's always next year. So can you talk a bit about the application process, and do you have any tips for authors who would like to be included in next year's event? Harriett Logan (07:19): Let me preface it by saying we have a year-round program called local voices, which is a rolling calendar of consignments in which we feature your works and work on your publicity as kind of your agent. And that's a different program from the Author Alley program. The Author Alley event is free for everyone to participate in guarantees. Your work will be stocked here for a bit. And of course features very recent work for that year. I can't promise participation for everyone who's published in the last 10 years. It needs to be a very recent publication event. So that's an important thing to keep in mind. It's really not that hard to participate because we want, as many as we can accommodate, we do ask authors to help us publicize it and to make sure that they've got a professional product to sell. And depending on your publisher, we either stock the book from our distributor or work on consignment with self-published folk, which is a harder gig to get these days. So this is a program that was specifically developed so that we could give the limelight to the self-published folks who have a hard time finding that limelight. Laura Maylene Walter (08:33): Yeah, absolutely. Well, before we wrap up, I would love to hear a bit more about the store. Maybe you could share something about Loganberry Books with our listeners. Why should someone who's never visited your store before stop into Loganberry? Harriett Logan (08:49): Well, this marks our 27th year here on Larchmere Boulevard, which is a historic district of Cleveland on the east side. It's an interesting street because it managed to avoid the depth of commercialism that led to lots of chain stores and services and McDonald's moving in. So it feels like an old school main street, which is rare for a city of our size. So it's a nice walking neighborhood. Loganberry itself has a unusually large space for a commercial district like this, which means we've got about 140,000 volumes here. And we sell new used and rare books. We also sell some interesting tchotchkes, crafts, prints and maps, ephemera, puzzles, and games. So it's a well rounded and diverse experience fitted with sofas and chairs for your leisure. Most people comment on the easygoing ambience, I guess I'm spoiled becauseI made it what I wanted and it feels like calm and wonderful. I forget just how hectic the rest of the world really feels. Laura Maylene Walter (10:01): Yeah. And you're also Loganberry is involved with the local literary community. I have taught a few classes for Literary Cleveland in your store, and I've always loved that. It just feels good to be in a room, surrounded by books when, when teaching a writing class. So I've always appreciated that. And before we go, I do have to ask you about cats. I'm a cat lover and you know, for a long time you had a cat Otis in the store who recently retired. Congratulations, Otis. Can you tell us about cats and Loganberry? Harriett Logan (10:31): Otis applied for a job about 14 years ago. <laugh> and I wasn't hiring at the time, but he was persistent and <laugh> I took him on and he was a world class-greeter of people, a bit of a prankster and extraordinarily friendly and very proud of the shop. He developed diabetes somewhere around his 12th year and his health has been a little difficult to manage. So now at age 14 or so, he has retired officially from Loganberry. He may come in unannounced someday, but he's officially retired because so many people come in asking, I just needed to make that public. And we threw a party with a big cake and everything for him. He had a great time. He has a little sister now, her name is Alice. I adopted her from a fostering org called Lauren's City Cats in the Flats. Alice was about a year old when I adopted her and she's all white. She tends to stick around the sanctuary when she's here, but she's very friendly with people. She's also vocal like Otis is, and she works here regular days, but it's still a very cat-centric kinda place and probably the best place to find greeting cards with cats on them than anywhere else in Cleveland. Laura Maylene Walter (11:49): <laugh> Yes, you do have a good card selection. And everyone listening, I mean, how could you not patronize a bookstore that throws a retirement party for a cat? There's nothing else that you could want. All right. Well, thanks again for being here. We're going to turn now to some audio clips from a few participating Author Alley writers who will share a bit about their books in their own words. Nicole D. Miller (12:11): My name is Nicole D. Miller, and I'll be at Loganberry Books on August 6th as part of Author Alley's BIPOC showcase with my book STORIES FOR THE URBAN SOUL. STORIES FOR THE URBAN SOUL is a compilation of short stories depicting Black characters dealing with relatable life issues via a spiritual lens. One fun fact about my writing process is that the very first story was created in a short story writing class held by Lit Cleveland in 2017. I had no idea back then that my short story "Lisa" would be the onset of my career as a fiction writer and inspire a whole book series surrounding the venue and characters featured in urban stories. James Redwood (12:48): My name is James Redwood and I'll be at Loganberry Books on August 13th as part of their Author Alley's fiction day with my debut novel TWO SHIPS. TWO SHIPS is a historical fiction novel that explores the concepts of freedom, fate risk and reward in the old world and in the new. Megan Neville (13:07): My name is Megan Neville and I'll be at Loganberry Books on August 13th as part of Author Alley's fiction and poetry day with my book THE FALLOW. THE FALLOW is a book of poems that weaves together various forms and themes to explore the impulse, to nurture amidst grief, destruction, and generational trauma. Several of these poems began or came to fruition in a summer workshop. I took in 2019 with Ada Limón, who is now our US Poet Laureate. I am honored that reviewers of THE FALLOW have referred to it as a fierce interrogation of injustice, a meditation on violence, grief, and womanhood that is harrowing, stunning, and liberated from shame. Jason Lady (13:46): My name is Jason Lady, and I'll be at Loganberry Books on August 13th with my new book, TIME PROBLEMS. TIME PROBLEMS is the story of Rachel, a kid who doesn't wanna go to middle school because she's heard the other kids are mean, and the schoolwork is hard. Rachel gets a mysterious magic pen that brings to life everything she draws and she creates the mighty time duck who freezes time for her so that the summer before sixth grade will never end. Like all my books. I came up with TIME PROBLEMS by thinking back to what gave me lots of angst. When I was a kid, I remember laying awake the first night before sixth grade worrying it would be too hard. So regardless of what generation you're from, some worries are universal. Trisha Springstubb (14:24): My name is Trisha Springstubb, and I'll be at Loganberry Books on August 20th as part of Author Alley's non-fiction and illustrated book day with my middle grade novel, THE MOST PERFECT THING IN THE UNIVERSE, my picture book, KHALIL AND MR. HAGERTY AND THE BACKYARD TREASURES and my CODY chapter book series. These books are for readers of all ages and their themes are family friendship and the connections we all share. Kids, and grownups too, often ask me where I get my ideas. Well, ideas are no problem. I have a zillion of them for me. The real question is how does an idea grow into a story? I found that all my books grew out of something deeply personal, a place or a person I love, a question I want to answer, a powerful memory, happy or sad. I hope to see you at Author Alley, where we can talk more about books and stories. Laura Maylene Walter (15:13): You can meet these authors, but also many more, by coming out to Loganberry Books on August 6th, 13th, and 20th from noon until 4:00 PM. You can learn more by visiting Loganberrybooks.com. I will link to the Author Alley page in the show notes, and you can also find a full list of the participating authors on this website. I hope you visit Loganberry Books and otherwise support your local independent bookstores. Laura Maylene Walter (15:41): Page Count is presented by the Ohio Center of the Book at Cleveland Public Library. Learn more online at ohiocenterforthebook.org. Follow us on Twitter @cplocfb, or find us on Facebook. If you'd like to get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "podcast" in the subject line. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @LauraMaylene. Finally, mark your calendars for our first-ever live podcast event, which will take place on Saturday, September 10th at Literary Cleveland's Inkbuator conference right here at Cleveland Public Library. You can learn more and register for this free conference by visiting litcleveland.org.
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