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April - June 2010     VOLUME 14 ISSUE 2
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Festival of Reading a Success

Adventures in Paradise 2010
Judy Buckland

“Adventures in Paradise” featured 16 best selling Florida authors and showcased an additional 14 local authors in 13 separate events. The 2010 Festival of Reading included writing workshops, informative and entertaining panels and an author’s reception at the Leesburg Public Library. A silent auction was held as a new fund-raising effort to continue year round programs at the libraries. The 2010 Bookmark Design Contest had over 1000 entries. In addition to the Elementary, Middle and High School, a new category for adults was added. Commissioner Linda Stewart presented the awards at the Festival of Reading Author Reception. The attendance this year exceeded 1100 people.

Day 1, was great fun at the Cooper Memorial Library. The (first ever) Authors’ Roundtable offered the opportunity to meet one-on-one with writers of romance, mystery, fantasy, culinary arts, self-help & more. They included Colleen Avelli, Doris Bloodsworth, Sherry Boas, Brenna O’Shea Cagiano, Dara Edmondson, Darlene Funkhouser, Bob Grenier, Valerie Hart, Ronald Johnson, Catherine Kean, Renita Ingrid Kjenslie, Jeffery Lamb, Paul McElroy, David Carl Mielke, Mark Miller, Robert Compton Miller, Regina L. Peeples, Eric Reinhold and Michelle Young. The best part of this event was the diversity of these creative minds. What an event!

In the afternoon Tom Lowe and Julie Compton, best selling mystery authors from St. Martins’ Press spoke about crime and the novel. Julie spoke fluently of her second novel, Rescuing Olivia, a romantic thriller with a horrifying cover-up and a powerful new drug carefully researched for its specific properties. Tom, on tour with his latest book, The 24th Letter, a follow-up to 2009's A False Dawn catapults former Miami homicide detective Sean O'Brien into a desperate race to save the life of a man he helped send to death row. Dr. Patricia Campbell, Chair of the Lake-Sumter Community College English Department was a very talented and funny moderator for the panel.

“Writing for Young Audiences” at the Tavares Public Library featured M.C. Finotti, author of the historical fiction novel The Treasure of Amelia Island; Vic DiGenti, author of the Windrusher series a rollercoaster epic that features feline characters and the world they inhabit; and Eric Reinhold author of the Ryann Watters Youth Adventure series. Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword movie is filming this summer on location in Mount Dora. These amazing authors gave their approach on how to capture the minds of young readers from 8 to 80.

Day 2, was wonderful, beginning with “Florida Adventures: History & Myth” at the Paisley Library. Steve Rajtar presented information and photos from Historic Photos of Florida Ghost Towns, beautiful black and white archival photos with detailed commentary. The book takes a look at the many historical sites in Florida that were destroyed, absorbed, or abandoned as the state bounded to modernity. Jim Robison, editor, reporter and history columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, gave the audience a wonderful look at Central Florida's rich historical past in Images of America: Along the Wekiva River. Meandering through Orange, Lake, and Seminole Counties, this "purest form of Central Florida nature," as described by one of its champions, is also bordered by some of the region's most densely populated suburban sprawl. Both authors showed some magnificent photographs. John Henry Fleming also had an animated slide show to accompany his fearsome creature presentation, featuring Storm Devils and Peat Fairies, Skunk Apes and Were-Panthers. These tales are a good and very humorous way to discourage (or encourage) visitors to the Sunshine State. Highly recommended program!

The "Movie Adventure" program at the Fruitland Park Library was the place to be with over 100 people in attendance waiting to meet author of "The Old Livingston House" and the production company and actors that are bringing the book to life on the silver screen. The place was buzzing with excitement. Producer Sherri Lamb and author/husband Jeffery were the first to walk the red carpet into the event. The actors soon followed. A question and answer session along with a meet and greet of actors was the highlight of the evening. At one point, people were lined up half way down the library waiting for the actors to sign their autographs. During the evening, a "walk on performance" was auctioned off and Austin Breeden was the winner!

That evening in the Tavares City Hall, Vic DiGenti presented a very engaging session on why it’s important to grab the reader in the beginning. “Great Beginnings: The Importance of the First Page." gave everyone in the audience a chance to create their own beginning paragraph and encouraged attendees to read their own first page. Two students from Tavares Middle, Mr. Von Maxey’s class read their works and received rave reviews! Newly published author Richard McClure shared an excerpt from his novel on life in West Virginia.

Day 3 was a blast from beginning to end. Award winning (and really funny) author Elaine Viets entertained a receptive audience at the W.T. Bland Public Library with "Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask". This writing workshop covered everything and then some, but no one was afraid to ask Elaine. She has worked every one of Helen Hawthorne's dead-end jobs and found a way to laugh in each one.

In the afternoon Dolores Wilson, (Big Hair & Flying Cows) former tow truck driver from W. Va.; Mark Schweizer (The Bass Wore Scales) Episcopal Youth Choir Director and author and self acclaimed winner of the “worst first line contest”; Elizabeth Sinclair (Garden of the Moon) part romance novelist and part stand up comedian and Lucienne Diver (Vamped). Her character Gina said of the Festival of Reading. “My chronicler, Lucienne Diver, did her very best to get glammed up at the Lake County Festival of Reading this past weekend. Things she did right: great color on the top portion of the dress. Love the way the ruffles draw the eyes in to the cleavage. But would it have killed her to spend five minutes with an iron? I think not.” These great authors shared their off-beat and quirky experiences in “The Power of Laughter”.
Later in the afternoon, veteran romance author Cynthia Thomason held a captivating workshop, “Not Your Mother's Romance Novel: The Basics of Writing Romance” Cynthia is undoubtedly one of the best instructors ever, whether you write romance or mystery, fiction or non-fiction. She considers every question a good one. Deal Me In (Texas Hold'em, Book 4) is her latest Harlequin Super Romance.
The second annual reception to celebrate the written word and to highlight the accomplish-ments of Florida’s outstanding authors was held on Friday evening. Outstanding food was provided by the American Culinary Federation, Gulf to Lakes Chefs and Cooks Association under the supervision of Chef Marcus Herrington and Robert Ponsi. Student chefs from Tavares High and Lake Tech were on hand to prepare and serve. They were wonderful! In addition this year, a silent auction was held to raise money for future library programs. It was really fun, and offered some great buys. While we are still waiting on the resolution, over $2,000 was raised! Awards were presented to the winners of the 11th annual Bookmark Design Contest by Commissioner Linda Stewart. Those artists did a fantastic job! Entertainment was provided by recording artists Chad Fernandes, a great singer along the lines of Michal Buble and Victoria Leigh, beautiful folk/rock songstress. Guests got to meet and talk personally with Julie Compton, Nancy Cohen, Lucienne Diver, John Henry Fleming, Catherine Kean, Jeffery Lamb, Steve Rajtar, Eric Reinhold, Mark Schweizer, Elizabeth Sinclair, Cynthia Thomason, Elaine Viets, Dolores Wilson, Michelle Young and more.

On day 4 we started with a very well attended and really fabulous workshop “How to Get Published: The Business of Writing” with best selling mystery/romance writer, Nancy J. Cohen, author of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries and romantic fantasy The Silver Serenade. Do not miss an opportunity to take one of Nancy’s classes, if you are interested in writing. She makes a simplified and very organized presentation.

“From an Agents Perspective” with Lucienne Diver, Literary Agent from The Knight Agency provided a wealth of answers. Very well attended and informative, this workshop presented the information on what publishers want, how to find a reputable agent and what to submit. The room was full of new writers in search of advice.

We returned in the afternoon with “Murder, Love and Laughter” featuring five of Florida’s best-selling, award winning writers: Nancy J. Cohen, Mark Schweizer, Elizabeth Sinclair, Dolores Wilson and Elaine Viets. All agreed that these gifted authors must indeed live their personal lives with a humorous twist. Our soon to be retired and winner of the FLA Intellectual Freedom Award, Barbara J. Morse moderated the panel with a flourish.

The Festival of Reading is supported primarily by grants, donations and the Friends of the Library groups. Watch for information on the 2011 event on the Lake County Library System website at