Saturday, March 31, 2012

The UCF Book Festival Begins With a Bang

 I had no intention of posting this morning, but I was too wired to do anything else but share with you our experiences from the kickoff of the UCF Book Festival last night.


Our annual UCF Book Festival (my second in attendance and as an official festival blogger) will be held all day today, and will feature some incredible authors and celebrities.  A VIP Reception was held last night in honor of our guests, and Heather (Raging Bibliomania) and I were invited to attend in an official capacity.  (We were asked to read and review a number of books from attending authors, which you have seen here at the blog over the last month.)  We were expecting a short hour or two of mingling with UCF staff and various authors that had already arrived in town.  We were looking forward to some of the friendly faces we met at SIBA in Charleston last year.


It was a top-notch reception.  It was held in the brand-spanking new Mordridge International Reading Center, a state-of-the-art facility, and were entertained by a jazz band from a local high school.  There was food, drinks (diet coke for me), and a huge chocolate fountain that I had to walk by to get to the bathroom.  I resisted but it was hard!


But what we thought would be a quick and casual evening suddenly morphed into what I would consider a book blogger's lottery.  Heather and I found ourselves surrounded by six authors who were hungry and wanting to go out to dinner...with us.  We all piled into two cars and headed to Houlihans.


Five of the six authors we had met before.  We were graced by three of the five Southern Belles of the Southern Belle View ...Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, and Marybeth Whalen (She Makes It Look Easy).  You might recall, the bloggers even "bought" Marybeth at the SIBA auction in Charleston and took her and three others to dinner.  We were also graced with the company of River Jordan (Praying For Strangers), and Karen White (On Folly Beach and something like 13 or 14 other novels).  


And then of course there was JOSHILYN.  The one I gush over every time I get a chance.  The one who I've read everything she has ever published.  I could have gone all screaming-14-year-old-at-the-sight-of-Justin-Bieber on her, but I maintained control.  Sort of.













Spending an evening with these ladies was incredible.  It was like old home week.  Everyone knew each other.  Three of them have a blog together.  River and Joshilyn went to college together.  They'd all done panels together (some great, some not so great).  There were a lot of stories, a lot of laughing, and I felt like I basically sat there with a goofy grin on my face at our good luck.  My rule of thumb on these dinners is "what happens at dinner stays at dinner"...I never want authors to feel like they have to be guarded in what they say around me.  


But I will say this.  Joshilyn talks like she writes.  You know that wit that comes through her characters that make you laugh out loud?  That is just IN her, and comes out in a constant font of hilarity.  We also had some fascinating discussions about the Furry Fetish (twisted, bizarre and totally real - it is on Wiki if you don't believe me) and the websites Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos.  I'll warn you...if you start looking you won't be able to stop.  And I learned that bunny rabbit costumes cannot look normal EVER.













Group photo left to right:  Rachel Hauck, Karen White, Me, Lisa Wingate, Marybeth Whalen, Joshilyn Jackson, Heather Figearo, River Jordan


I look forward to a full day of author panels and seeing some of my good blogger friends.  I will provide an update tomorrow in my Sunday Salon!



16 comments:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Wow, what a fun evening! I can't wait to hear about today!! Have a great time.

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, you and Heather did hit the jackpot!!! I know you were totally geeking out inside even if you were able to play it cool.

Anita said...

So jealous I registered late for the reception :(, see you later!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

OMG, I hardly recognize you with your weight loss - seriously!

Darlene said...

Ow wow, how awesome. I'd love to meet Karen White. I adore her writing. I'm so jealous. By the way, you look fantastic Sandy!

Jenners said...

WOWIE ZOWIE!!!! What a great experience … and I love your "what happens at the restaurant stays at the restaurant" philosophy!!! I don't know how you can top this at all!

Marie said...

how wonderful and fun! :-)

JoAnn said...

What a fun event. BTW, YOU LOOK GREAT!! All that hard work had paid off.

Jackie Bailey said...

Glad to hear that you remained in control when you met Josilyn - I hate it when I make a fool of myself in front of people I really look up to. It sounds as though you had a fantastic time.

Julie P. said...

I am crazy jealous right now.

First for spending time with Joshilyn Jackson. And second because you look fabulous! I can totally tell that you've lost weight!

Zibilee said...

Dinner with all those ladies was such a blast, and I had such an amazing time! So, so glad that I got the chance to have that experience!

Beth F said...

Wow. wow. wow.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ha, my husband and I laughed at the Awkward Family Pet Photos website for hours a few months ago.

Vicki said...

I had planed to go to the UCF Book Festival, but something came up and I missed it. I'm so bummed!!

I was so excited to meet all the authors, especially Joshilyn Jackson. I hope she comes back next year!

The Bumbles said...

While you were gushing over your bookish heaven, I was distracted by your skinny self. After working so hard to look like that, no wonder you were able to resist the chocolate fountain. You go girl!!

Melissa said...

Joshilyn is wonderful!! I'm listening to Backseat Saints right now. :)