GEEK PARENTING Chicago Release Party at The Book Cellar!

On Saturday, April 16th, 6pm-8pm, we’ll be having the Geek Parenting Chicago Book Launch at The Book Cellar!

Many of you have been there before and know what a wonderful bookstore it is. We had my The Silence of Trees book launch and the Conclave: A Journal of Character release parties there back in 2008 and 2010.

The owner, Suzy, has been able to cultivate a welcoming atmosphere for families, book clubs, and all manner of literary events. This profile came out in February in the Chicago Review of Books, but it’s worth sharing again to celebrate one of of Chicago’s finest independent bookstores.

I’m really looking forward to being able to celebrate Geek Parenting at The Book Cellar with you!

Conclave Journal Pushcart Prize Nominations


I am pleased to nominate the half-dozen works listed below from Conclave: A Journal of Character for the Pushcart Prize. It was a difficult decision, and I wish I could have nominated more than six because we had a wonderful collection of prose, poetry, photography, and art in our second issue.

The Pushcart Prize has been honoring the books and magazine put out by small presses since 1976. I am grateful to the efforts of Bill Henderson and his volunteer editors for the time and energy they put into creating this excellent reflection of the best of the small presses each year. It’s my hope that any notoriety our writers could achieve with the Pushcart Prize would help all the fine writers in Conclave to reach a larger audience.

Today, I am proud to announce the following six pieces of poetry and prose from the 2010 issue of Conclave: A Journal of Character to be considered for inclusion in the next volume by the Pushcart Press, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses:


  • Ana Elsner: “Sobs For Annie Parks”
  • Justin Leahey: “The Last Christmas In Breslau”
  • Soo Young Lee: “Xanadu”
  • Rafael Migues Montes: “Gymnauseum”
  • Indigo Moor: “Taking Stock
  • Susan Petrone: “Monster Jones Wants To Creep You Out”

Congratulations and thank you to all the contributors in this year’s issue of Conclave: A Journal of Character, as well as to the editors who made this issue possible.

Valya Dudycz Lupescu, founding editor
Conclave: A Journal of Character

Paris on the Prairie

My head is still spinning from last weekend’s events. I loved mulling about in such diverse creative pools of people, but that’s Chicago’s literary and art scenes—such a variety of styles and voices.

Valya Dudycz Lupescu & Scott Markwell, photo by 8 Eyes Photography

Friday’s release party for Conclave: A Journal of Character was a success! An enthusiastic and attentive crowd came out to support the magazine, have wine and cheese, share cake and coffee, and listen to local writers and performers read from the latest issue.

Don Evans, photo by 8 Eyes Photography

I feel protective and proud of each piece we select for publication in Conclave, so meeting their makers is always a thrill. I’m delighted when contributors travel to attend the party, and this year, Darci Schummer came in from Minneapolis to read and party with us.

Darci Schummer, photo by Rob Lambert

It was fun meeting Darci, and I hope to see her the next time we make it up to Minneapolis.

Deb Miller & Steve Simoncic, photo by Rob Lambert

After the last dramatic performance, sweetheart Molly Robison performed for an hour: some covers, some originals (including my favorite Patience Worth…there’s a good character!).

Molly Robison, photo by 8 Eyes Photography

Perhaps the most novel aspect of this year’s release party was a last-minute decision to broadcast the readings and performances live via Ustream.

Meg Fergus & Valya reading chat comments during broadcast, photo by Rob Lambert

Thanks to the assistance of dizzydarkhorse , an international audience popped in to see what was happening at the Book Cellar online. I hope that we can continue to find new ways to use technology to expand our audience and promote the work in Conclave.

Sanfilippo Estate, photo by Roberta Richardson

If Friday was about celebrating new voices and new media, Saturday was on the opposite end of the literary spectrum—honoring writers whose lifetime contributions and legacies have shaped the literary landscape of Chicago. Patrons and writers attended the benefit for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills.

Music chamber in Sanfilippo, photo by Roberta Richardson

Hosted by the Chicago Writers Association, the event included a tour of the remarkable estate and a concert on the world’s largest Wurlitzer (8,000 pipes, percussions and sound effects), as well as appearances by local authors Elizabeth Berg, Joe Meno,  Sara Paretsky, Rosellen Brown, Bayo Ojikutu, Achy Obejas, Rob Duffer, and so many other great Chicago writers.

Marc Kelly Smith, photo by Roberta Richarson

Marc Kelly Smith, founder of the poetry slam movement, emceed with colorful enthusiasm and announced the six writers to be inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame: Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren, Lorraine Hansberry, Saul Bellow and Richard Wright. Information about the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be announced soon!

A second night surrounded by creative people in this one-of-a-kind location was inspiring, and I came home eager to write, to add my voice to the others who have come before and continue to write in my beloved city by the lake, our so-called third coast, this fantastic city of big shoulders.