Are you a resolutions-maker? If so, how about including one (or two) for enjoying the Dayton-area literary scene as a reader/literature lover/writer? If you’re not into resolutions, this column can still serve as a handy guide for literary goodness in our region in 2014.
This week: traditionally published writers in our area. Next week: events and venues.
Our area includes many writers, both published and aspiring. Here are a few you’ll want to read, if you haven’t already. (I selected writers who currently live in our area and have traditionally published book-length works in recent years, but there are many fine writers in our area who have published shorter works, published independently, or had works published in the past.)
New on the literary scene this year is Suzanne Kelly (http://smithdocs.net/harmony_series) whose debut novel Stolen Child was published in 2013 … and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A business law professor at Wright State University, Suzanne’s novel is a coming-of-age story about an Irish-American girl set during the John F. Kennedy election and presidency.
Erin Flanagan (www.erinflanagan.net) is a fine short story writer; her newest collection is It’s Not Going to Kill You. Each story is a literary gem with a Midwestern Gothic twist. She is also a professor of English at Wright State University. Brady Allen (www.bradyallen.com), also a Wright State University English professor, writes short stories with a unique blend of surrealism/fantasy in his collection Back Roads and Frontal Lobes.
For science fiction, be sure to check out Kameron Hurley (www.kameronhurley.com), author of Rapture and John Scalzi (www.whatever.scalzi.com) whose novel Red Shirts won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2013.
Tim Waggoner (www.timwaggoner.com), who is also a Sinclair Community College instructor of English, may well be the area’s most prolific author; his work is in the horror and fantasy genres, and his most recent release in 2013 was Supernatural: Carved in Flesh.
Romance lovers should check out the work of area author Jessica Lemmon (www.jessicalemmon.com). Her debut romance novel, Tempting The Billionaire, was published a year ago; through 2013, she had two more romance novels and a novella published, and has another novel slated for publication in 2014.
For mystery, be sure to explore the work of Heather Webber a.k.a. Heather Blake. Another of the area’s more prolific authors, Heather currently pens four cozy mystery series (Nina Quinn and Lucy Valentine as Heather Webber— www.heatherwebber.com — and the paranormal Wishcraft and Potion Shop series as Heather Blake—www.heatherblakebooks.com) Her 2013 titles included A Potion To Die For and The Good, The Bad and The Witchy (as Blake) and The Root of All Trouble (as Webber); more titles are slated for publication in 2014.
Shelley Shepard Gray (www.shelleyshepardgray.com) is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist who writes mysteries with Amish settings and characters. Also prolific, her 2013 titles included Ray of Light, Eventide, and Peace: A Crittenden County Christmas Novel.
Mystery lovers should also explore the work of Carrie Bebris (www.carriebebris.com) who writes the award-winning historical Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series. And Raul Ramos y Sanchez (www.raulramos.com) also pens an award-winning thriller series, this one exploring ethnic conflict in the near future.
The greater Dayton area is blessed with many fine poets whose work is published in literary journals across the land and shared in poetry readings. 2013 brought us new collections from many of these poets, including Jake Sheff’s debut collection, Looting Versailles (www.threepaces.blogspot.com), Time of the Light by Ed Davis (www.davised.com), On the Flyleaf by Herbert Woodward Martin (http://smithdocs.net/harmony_series) and Particular Scandals by Julie L. Moore (www.julielmoore.com). Other area poets who’ve published collections in prior years: Jamey Dunham, Catherine Essinger, David Garrison, and Grace Curtis.
Fans of nonfiction should treat themselves to the varied and numerous works of Ralph Keyes (www.ralphkeyes.com), an internationally well-known writer and speaker based in Yellow Springs.
Young Adult fiction is popular, and several local authors are beloved by readers of that genre, including Mindee Arnett (www.mindeearnett.com) and Kristin Bailey (www.kristinbailey.com), both of whom enjoyed debut publication this year. Kristin’s debut novel was Legacy of the Clockwork Key, and Mindee’s was The Nightmare Affair; both novelists have more works slated for publication in 2014. Two other local Young Adult authors are Kristina McBride (kristinamcbride.com) and Trudy Krisher.
Several authors in our area write in more than one genre. Katrina Kittle (www.katrinakittle.com) writes literary mainstream fiction as well as middle grade fiction. Martha Moody (www.marthamoody.net) is known for her literary mainstream fiction, but her most recent novel crosses into futuristic science fiction territory. My own work (www.sharonshort.com) includes two mystery series and a literary mainstream novel.
Learn more about all of the above writers with a visit to a local bookstore or library, or by visiting their websites.
Upcoming Literary Events
• Jan. 6 — Erma Bombeck Writing Contest opens at 8 a.m.; grand prize is $500 and free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at University of Dayton, April 10-12. The contest is sponsored by the Washington Centerville Public Library. For details and to enter, visit www.wclibrary.info/erma
• Starting Jan. 6 and Jan. 12: Word’s Worth Writing Center is offering classes in creative writing craft, one focusing on jumpstarting your fiction for the new year, and one on voice and point of view, start Jan. 6 and are led by area novelist Katrina Kittle. For scheduling and details, visit www.wordsworthdayton.com
• Jan. 12, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Free Writer’s Mini Workshop in Setting Writing Goals and The Business of Writing, sponsored by the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and led by authors Erin Flanagan and Sharon Short.