Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of attending the UCF Book Festival with fellow blogger-friends Sandy, Heather, Jenny, Michelle, and Anita (and a few of their husbands). It was the first time I had ever been to a bookish event like this (I KNOW. What have I been DOING the past 4 years of blogging, seriously?!) and it was everything I was hoping for (with the exception of the fact that there were no t-shirts. I would have bought a t-shirt). Seriously, though, it was awesome. Let me tell you about some of the authors I saw there.
There were twenty-one panels to choose from, and I managed to make it to five. The first one was Imperfect Justice with Jeff Ashton. If you’ve heard that name before, it’s because he was the prosecutor on the very famous Casey Anthony trial here in Central Florida last year. He has now written a book, Imperfect Justice, about the entire experience. I personally wasn’t looking forward much to this panel, but it ended up being quite interesting. Jeff Ashton is actually pretty funny and his insights on why the jury made the decision they did rang true to me. So that was a good kick-start to the day.
The next panel was the one I was most looking forward to, Writing Place: New Fiction from the South, because it contained two authors I love very much: Karen White and Joshilyn Jackson. Nicole Louise Reed was on the panel as well. I have to tell you, Joshilyn Jackson is probably the funniest person I have ever met. She is absolutely hysterical, she had the entire room cracking up pretty much the entire time. And it was great for me to see her in person and hear her speak, because she narrates her own audio books, so it was part creepy/part awesome to hear the voice I know and love coming from her actual body. It was really fabulous. And Karen White is just to die for. She is absolutely gorgeous, completely put together, such a Southern lady. She read from her book The Beach Trees and even though I’ve already read the novel myself, hearing her read from it made me want to pick up another Karen White novel as soon as possible. While a lot of this panel was taken up with the authors reading from their novels, I still loved hearing them speak and was seriously awestruck, in author heaven, whenever Joshilyn Jackson opened her mouth. That woman is absolutely super cool, awesome, I can’t even tell you how much I love her.
The next panel I went to was Stories from the Ladies of the South, featuring authors Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, River Jordan, and Marybeth Walen. Unfortunately, I haven’t read any of these ladies’ novels, but I enjoyed each one of the four of them and I really plan to pick up some of their books soon. This was a very fun panel because it was clear these four women really enjoy each other, and they played off one another as they answered the questions. I appreciated the insight each of these women had into the writing process and overall, I really enjoyed the dynamic of the panel. Now I REALLY want to read their books!
The fourth panel I attended was Tragedy and Triumph: Celebrating Nonfiction. The authors on this panel were W. Scott Poole, Allan Wolf, and Sheryl Needle Cohn. I hadn’t read any of their books either, but after attending the panel I am very intrigued by all three of their books. Allan Wolf’s The Watch That Ends the Night, which is a book about the Titanic told in verse, sounds especially interesting to me. I am a sucker for verse, I tell you.
The last panel I was also looking forward to quite a bit as it featured one of my favorite YA authors, Ellen Hopkins. The other two authors on the panel were Jessica Martinez and Ty Roth. This was a pretty good panel – the authors talked about why they write YA, what they think about censorship and what they do about it (answer: hate it and fight it), and how their real lives have affected what they have written. Ellen Hopkins shared with us the fact that her first novel was based on her own daughter’s issues with drugs as a teenager. And I hadn’t heard of the other two YA authors before attending this panel, but now I’m very interested in reading their books!
After all the fun was over, all of us bloggers headed out to dinner and basically just caught up on each other’s lives since the last time we’ve hung out as a group, a year ago. It was a great day and I’m so happy I had the chance to be a part of it.
As for today, I’m planning to get caught up on my blog as I have no reviews scheduled for this week, and spend some quality time with my hubby. What do you have going on this lovely Sunday?