My Light in the Dawn

I’m trying to finish up these half-written blog entries, so expect a few in rapid succession.

Last month I participated in the first Chicago Book Expo, held at the abandoned Borders in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The Chicago Writers House Project created a pop-up bookstore in the empty building on November 19 and 20, 2011. More than 40 local presses participated (including Wolfsword Press). The Expo included readings, panel discussion, live performances, and architectural walking tours.

You can hear a Chicago Publishes Podcast about the Expo:

Chicago Publishes Podcast: Chicago Book Expo by Chicago Publishes

Listen as founding member of the Chicago Writers House John Rich, Gabriel Levinson of ANTIBOOKCLUB, and I talk about the Expo (you can hear me at 6 minutes 20 seconds).

The Expo coincided with Adriana Renescu‘s visit to Chicago, so Wolfsword Press invited her to be one of the featured readers at the Expo and read from her novel The Wolves of Pavlava. With the combination of her gorgeous accent and powerful imagery, I could have listened to her read the entire novel that afternoon! (Maybe an audiobook, Adriana? Check out

With Adriana Renescu at the Chicago Book Expo, 2011

On Saturday, Adriana and I read from our novels, along with two writers from the Chicago Center of Literature and Photography (CCLaP): Sally Weigel and Katherine Scott Nelson. I enjoyed both of their pieces, but Katherine’s novella Have You Seen Me absolutely blew me away. She is an incredibly talented writer with a powerful voice.

I was happy to sit at the Expo for the two days to represent Wolfsword Press and talk about The Silence of Trees, but I was especially excited to connect with people about our upcoming comic, Sticks and Bones and The Artist Zoo project (which deserves its own post soon). So many people got excited by the idea, signed up to be considered for the art book, and volunteered to help out! I plan to follow up with everyone in the next few weeks so that we can move forward in 2012!

The Chicago Book Expo organizers did a wonderful job pulling it all together (special thanks to the lovely Heather McShane and Jon Fullmer). They had an impressive showing of publishers and attendees, each one an authentic and enthusiastic Chicago voice. I was grateful for the chance to be a part of it and happy to meet so many new publishers on the scene. From what I saw last month, the Chicago publishing scene has a bright future. It made my inner literary optimist happy and proud.

Reading at the Chicago Book Expo (the speakeasy location)


Conclave: A Journal of Character to Launch at The Book Cellar in Chicago

New Characters Arrive on the Literary Scene

CHICAGO, Illinois – On Saturday, October 18, 2008, Wolfsword Press will launch its literary magazine, Conclave: A Journal of Character, with a party from 7-9 pm at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Square.  The character-focused journal showcases the work of 36 writers and 15 photographers from around the world.

“Conclave is a different kind of literary magazine because of its character focus,” says founding editor Valya Dudycz Lupescu. “It has a less academic texture than many literary magazines put out by university presses. The black and white photography and bold cover art evoke a more accessible and artistic sensibility.”

Dudycz Lupescu, who divides her time between Chicago and Frankfurt, Germany, met most of her editorial team during their participation in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest. The Amazon online forum became a conclave for writers looking to find camaraderie and support during the competition.

After the contest ended, Dudycz Lupescu and her husband, Mark, founded, an online showcase and networking site for writers.  Recognizing the high quality of talent in their ranks, the couple also created a small nonprofit publishing company, Wolfsword Press to publish Conclave, as well as future fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles.

Dudycz Lupescu assembled an international advisory board that includes Nahid Rachlin, Maureen Seaton, Roy Kesey, Altaf Qadri, and 12 other renowned writers and photographers. The editorial staff then set out to find strong character-driven poetry, fiction, nonfiction, dramatic excerpts, flash fiction, and photography.

“The writing in Conclave is compelling,” said Dudycz Lupescu. “Kathy Coudle King’s dramatic piece, ‘A Couple of Boobs’ is a bittersweet and believable snippet of a mother-daughter relationship; award-winning author of Darkroom: A Family Exposure,  Jill Christman’s ‘Burned’ is poignant and elegant; and Richard Rutherford’s ‘Mongo Hits the Mark’ is an unsettling naturalistic glimpse into fear and aggression.”

In addition to the launch, Conclave is participating in this year’s Around the Coyote Festival held in Chicago. Several of Conclave’s pieces were recorded by writers or performers and will be played in the festival hall to complement the visual arts being displayed over the October 18th weekend. Conclave Journal is also one of many locally based books and magazines to be featured in the new Publishers Gallery located in the Chicago Cultural Center.

“Conclave has generated an exciting discussion among our editors and contributors on what character really is,” said Scott Markwell, managing editor of Conclave and a Chicago-based writer, educator, and performer. “We’ve asked ourselves what character looks like and why it’s important. Fundamentally, we believe character is core to good story-telling, rather than simply relying on the novelty of a narrative.”

The premiere issue of Conclave:  A Journal of Character will be available on, as well as on the Conclave Journal website. The inaugural issue includes the work of Denise Duhamel, Michael S. Glaser, Mark Neely, Gérard Lavalette, Thomas Weschta, Sebastián Utreras Lizana, and many others. In addition to the Chicago Launch for Conclave, there are plans for a San Francisco Launch, and possibly a New York Launch as well.

Conclave will open for online submissions in April for its 2009 issue. Authors wishing to submit their work can visit the Conclave: a Journal of Character website at for submission guidelines.


About Conclave: A Journal of Character:
Conclave is an annual print journal that focuses on character-driven writing in contemporary literary fiction and character-focused black and white photography. Conclave is published by Wolfsword Press, a nonprofit independent publisher based in Chicago.