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Armchair BEA: An introduction

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Armchair BEA 2012

Experiencing Book Expo America (BEA)

Armchair BEA - The virtual conventionAttending Book Expo America is one of those things many writers dream about and put on their literary bucket list. Not every one goes. Not all published writers attend and even fewer are offered the chance to be a part of the expo when they have a new book out. During my early writing years I heard stories about the BEA from other writers. It wasn’t until I was working for Borders Books that I actually had an opportunity gorge myself on books with all the other attendees and it was everything I expected and more. Not to mention that I managed to somehow ship a walloping huge number of free books home. Talk about a booklover’s version of heaven.

Recently a new twist on the BEA experience has emerged called ARMCHAIR BEA. It’s an opportunity for book bloggers to participate in this annual “giant celebration of the written word.” With the raised emphasis on books and reading here at DWP, I’ve decided to join in the fun and attend this year’s virtual convention. To kick off my participation, ARMCHAIR BEA asks that we create an introductory post, so here’s mine.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Shelves of the classics, Heritage Press books

I’m Vikk Simmons and I’ve been blogging here at Down the Writer’s Path since 2003. I cut my teeth on book binding and have had a book in my hands, on my desk, by my bed, and in my car, purse, and bookbag ever since. Reading led to writing. Writing led to publishing. I spent four years with Borders Books handling events, publicity, and corporate sales. It further enlarged my world to include the chaotic but ever interesting publishing industry. It was a no-brainer when I discovered blogging. A publishing platform without a gatekeeper. How cool is that? The immediacy of the form captured me and the blogging began.

I blog about my interests and Down the Writer’s Path is all about the world of books, readers and writers engaged in the worlds of reading writing, and publishing.  Writing has always helped me to clarify my thoughts and blogging provides an added incentive to do so as well as allowing me to connect with others, share my thoughts, and engage with readers and other bloggers. Blogging enlarges a writer’s world in so many varied ways and opens up numerous possibilities. I love it.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

Game of Thrones Series

While I’m in the midst of Mary McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood and Diedrich von Hildebrand’s Transformation in Christ, my current reading continues to range from topic to topic and genre to genre. I have a strong book orientation so it’s a bit odd that I’ve come to Game of Thrones by way of the HBO series but it’s true. I’m so impressed by the storytelling and the author’s gutsy moves as displayed in the show that I simply have to go into the books to see for myself if it remains true.

In the past few years my attraction for crime novels written by authors such as Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly has widened and now includes those written by authors in Sweden, Finland, and Iceland has intensified so I’m reading Henning Mankill, Arnaldur Indridason, Stieg Larsson and others. Pawing at the edges of my mind, the classics have finally clawed their way to the forefront. Charles Dickens, birthday boy that he is, is on the front burner due to this year being his bicentennial so The Pickwick Papers is at hand.

Arthur Plotnik's new book Elements of ExpressionAn ARC of Art Plotnik’s latest book The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words showed up in my mailbox the other day and I’m delighted. He’s a favorite author and I’ve already thumbed through the pages. So many of this year’s titles beckon. They include Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human BrainBallpoint: A Tale of Genius and Grit, Perilous Times, and the Invention that Changed the Way We WriteSkulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection, and any and all of the Best American Series anthologies (They are an annual orgy of reading pleasure.).

What others might not know about me

Teddy the Shih Tsu, master of the house

Teddy the Shih Tsu

I confess I am dog-centric. I not only share my life with my 97 year old mom, and her two cats, and am her caregiver but six gorgeous dogs also inhabit my life and heart. I have written about them but don’t usually mention them in this blog dedicated to writing. The same goes for the caregiver aspect of my life with my mom. I write and explore these subjects elsewhere. I am essentially housebound and use my non-caregiving time to play and care for the dogs and read and write.

Where do you see your blog in five years?

I expect my blog will expand in scope and in the usage of various media such as audio, video, etc. In fact, I’m in the midst of developing a 5-year plan. Books and reading will definitely take on a much larger role in the future. It’s so important for writers to not only write but read. Read not just as a writer but as a passionate reader, too. So many writers lose their enthusiasm for reading because they’ve lost their ability to slide into a book and experience the story. That, to me, would be devastating.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Edgar Alan Poe photograph Library of Congress

Edgar A Poe

I’m torn between Irving Stone and Edgar Allan Poe–what a literary duet that would be. Both writers had a huge impact on me during my formative years. Irving Stone’s The Agony and The Ecstasy was a once-a-year reading ritual for me for a decade. It’s only in the last fifteen years that I’ve realized how much formation about the creative process I received through Stone’s depiction of Michelangelo and the sculpting and artistic process. I would absolutely love to talk to him about the creative process, his writing, and the artists he studied and wrote about.

Poe? Well, he’s Poe. I remember being thirteen, slouched in the armchair immersed in reading The Tell-Tale Heart and experiencing such a growing horror and suspense but being incapable of putting the book down. I’m sure he planted the seeds for my love of suspense, horror, mystery and just plain good storytelling. I would be thrilled to simply sit and listen to him expound on writing, share his creative process, and tell me a story–with the lights on, of course.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

That’s easy. Take one of those Delta Riverboat Queen cruises on the Mississippi River while reading Mark Twain and visiting his home and other associated places. Talk about a marvelous experience full of literary and sensory delight….

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?

Book bloggers share the same love of reading and respect for authors and their works as I do. That’s what I love about them. They are passionate about books. They want to talk about them. I love that. I am one of the smallest of minorities in this day and age, a non-movie-goer. I love books, talk books, read about books. I’m curious about the authors, enjoy reading about them, learning about their lives, discovering their thought processes, sharing their stories. I don’t come to books from movies and I don’t go to movies as a result of books.

What has always amazed me about today’s writers is how quickly their discussions turn to the latest movies they’ve seen and seldom ever discuss books. If they were screenwriters I could understand but these are primarily fiction writers who aspire to publish books. A book is not a movie; a movie is not a book. They live in different realms. So that’s why I love being a part of the book community. We get books. Do you?

Ready to read the classics? My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.
Note: Book covers and titles featured in post are via Amazon and are affiliate links.
Image credits: BEA Armchair design by Sarah of Puss Reboots; Teddy the Shih Tsu copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons, all rights reserved; Edgar Allan Poe public domain courtesy Library of Congress; READ Black Lab poster via ALA store   

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Series NavigationArmchair BEA: New books for writers in 2012
  • Anonymous

    I can’t imagine where I’ll be in five years, let alone where my blog will be! I have to admire your organizational skills there!

    And Teddy is the cutest! I’d love to have a dog, but my apartment with two cats (Mumble and Chubs) seems small enough as it is!

    Nice to meet you Vikk!

    KellyRadiant Shadows

  • Violette

    We have much in common. For 6 years I was the weekend nurse for my mother when she was ill with Parkinson’s. My sister was the primary caregiver. You will never regret being “housebound” as that close relationship with your Mom will only become stronger and meaningful. The things you share now will be a source of pride later. Enough already!!! I would love to cruise down the Mississippi too. I get the brochure almost every year.

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hi Violette, we sure do have a lot in common. I appreciate your thoughts very much and it’s so cool that you’re an equal fan of the Mississippi trip. I confess I, too, get those brochures nearly every year. I can’t help myself. Thanks so much for stopping by, for reading, and for commenting. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hey Kelly, Teddy thanks you very much–in his deepest growly imitation of Elvis.   I understand about the five year thing. My plans for the blog had fallen to the wayside when I suddenly entered into this caregiver period but I’m trying to take a little more control and at least create a 5-year plan. :) Thanks for coming by and saying hello. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    I know, Jillian, it sort of boggles my mind even as much as I’ve experienced it all these years. I’ve been known to beat my head on the table and call a halt to the movie-talk when we’re gathered to focus on writing and books. I admit, my frustration is definitely not invisible. :) My friends know it all too well. 

  • Gwen

    I can still quote much of Poe’s poetry without blinking thanks to an obsession during my teen years. Not exactly useful in life, but it is what it is. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    I do get the Poe obsession. :)