Recap: 2012 UCF Book Festival

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two Saturdays ago, on March 31st, I attended the 3rd annual UCF Book Festival in Orlando. As we had last year, the bloggers were given a suite upstairs in the arena where the festival was held. We all met up there in the morning and planned out our day. It was my husband and myself, Heather (Raging Bibliomania) and her husband, Heather (Book Addiction), Sandy (You GOTTA Read This), Michelle (My Books. My Life) and her husband, and Anita (A Woman, A Wife, A Mom). As I mentioned before, I got so caught up with things I had going on last month that I forgot to rsvp for the author reception the night before and chose not to go in case that was an issue.. and boy did I miss out!! Check out Sandy's post about the dinner they had with a bunch of the authors!

The first panel a few of us went to was by prosecutor, Jeff Ashton. He was the prosecutor for the Casey Anthony case, which is close to home for those of us here in Orlando. He wrote Imperfect Justice which I've had for a while but still need to read. His panel was super interesting and we all liked getting to hear some of what he thought about everything. He was also incredibly friendly. I got him to sign my book and took this picture.














After grabbing a quick lunch, most of us headed to the panel, Writing Place: New Fiction From the South. The authors on this panel were Joshilyn Jackson, Karen White, and Nicole Louise Reid. They each read an excerpt from their books and answered questions. Afterward, I was able to get Joshilyn to sign my copy of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty (review to come soon). Joshilyn is so bubbly and funny and you can just hear her voice in the narrative of her books. (For those who listen to the audio of her books you can literally hear her voice).











 

The next one I attended along with Michelle was Contemporary Voices: Literary Fiction for the 21st Century which had authors, Lauren Groff, Darlin O'Neal, and Michael Griffith on the panel. I have to say that though I hadn't yet ready any of Lauren Groff's books (I'm currently reading Arcadia), I was wholly impressed by her. She came across to me as a real, genuine, literary writer; she was well-spoken, intelligent, and humble but still confident. She talked about how she really only publishes about a fifth of everything she writes. She answered one person's question about confidence by saying something along the lines of if a writer becomes too confident, their work will be negatively affected or something along those lines. (NOT a direct quote). Her short stories have been published in tons of magazines, journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker. And she was so nice and friendly. I pretty much resolved to read everything she has written.

Then we attended Tragedy and Triumph: Celebrating Non-Fiction with authors Sheryl Needle Cohn, W. Scott Poole, and Allan Wolf. All their books sounded interesting, but unfortunately I really had to limit myself to how many books I bought that day! The last session which I think we all attended was Embracing Imperfections with Young Adult Literature. The authors were Ellen Hopkins, Jessica Martinez, and Ty Roth. I'll admit, I've had sort of a grudge against one of these authors because of a comment she left on my blog, but I've considered going back to reading her books. And I really want to read the books of the other two as well.

The whole event was a lot of fun, but I do have to mention my gripe about the panels. None of the panels really followed their titles, and I had looked forward to those theme-related discussions. (There's a specific one I remember from last year that was so engaging and thought provoking). Most of these were practically just Q and A's, and a few were the Q and A combined with long excerpts read by the authors. I would have prefered the discussion.

After the event, we bloggers went out to dinner at Macaroni Grill and caught up. It was a lot of fun, but we didn't end up getting a picture!

It looks like next year's event is going to be a two-day thing. I'm not sure of the date yet, but it will probably be this time of year. I recommend clearing your calendar to attend!!

10 comments:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

What a wonderful event! I wish I lived close enough to attend - I'd be there in a heartbeat. Thanks for telling us all about it, Jenny.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love these recaps! Re panels, I have found the same thing at the Tucson Festival of Books. Often, the panel doesn't have much to do with its title!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

OMG what fun. I wish I was there. I am SO SO SO SO jealous about JJ. I seriously want to meet her after listening to A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. Thanks for the great recap.

bermudaonion said...

That sounds like a blast! I love so many of the authors who were there. Maybe they can get the panels back on track next year.

softdrink said...

Same goes for the panels at the LA Times Festival of Books. In fact, I've heard moderators say things like "who comes up with these titles??"

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Arcadia!

Jenners said...

It sounds like a great event!! I hope to get to attend one year.

Ti said...

Wow!! I think it's great that they arranged a meeting room for you all. You are so good about taking photos WITH the authors. I always forget to do that or maybe I do it on purpose so I don't have to look at myself. I always make weird faces or look weird in some way.

nomadreader said...

Between you and Heather, I am beyond jealous! This event sounds amazing. I'm particularly envious of you hearing Lauren Groff. I hope you love Arcadia as much as I did!

Jennie said...

Book festivals are so awesome, aren't they?!

Trish said...

How cool that you were able to meet some of these authors including Joshilyn Jackson! Wish that I knew about more events like these close to me. We have the Texas Book Festival in October but it isn't as good as some of the other festivals I hear about.

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